Digestive Impairment



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Introduction
Insufficient Stomach Acid/Digestive Enzyme Production
Alleviating low stomach acid/enzyme production
     Betaine Hydrochloride
     Digestive Enzymes
     Pre-cursors
     Herbs
     Stocks
     Soaking Nuts and Seeds
     Blending
     Avoiding drinking too much with meals
Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut Syndrome
Food Allergy, Intolerance and Sensitivity
Endocrine System Disrupting Foods
     Goitrogens
     Isoflavones
     Lignans
Hot and Cold Energy
Food Combining
'Good' and 'Bad' Fats - Fatty Acid Imbalances
Mucoid Plaque
Acidosis
Processed and Convenience Foods
Organic Foods and 'Health' Foods
My Own Dietary Regime



 
Introduction:

Digestion of food gives us our energy and our nutrients. With this impaired, we do not have a solid foundation for life itself. Digestive disorders can be classed into basic three categories, acid/enzyme production, mucoid plaque and foreign organisms.

A brief overview of the human digestive system can be found at the link below.

http://www.biologymad.com/Digestion/Digestion.htm

Please see the overview of the different digestive enzymes producted by the stomach and pancreas at the wikipedia link below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastric_acid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digestive_enzyme

www.enzymestuff.com/digestion.htm

A description and diagrams of the stomach can be found at the Wikipedia link below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stomach

There are 3 main valves in the digestive tract, one at the top of the stomach, one at the 'bottom' (and to the side) of the stomach (between the stomach and the small intestine), and one at the end of the small intestine (between the small intestine and the large intestine (the colon)). The purpose of the valve at the top of the stomach is to prevent the contents of one's stomach from pouring up the throat and out of the mouth if one is lying down or bending down! Overeating can sometimes temporarily open this valve and cause stomach acid to rise up into the mouth. the purpose of the valve at the 'bottom' of the stomach is to control when food is passed into the small intestine (i.e. when the body determines that sufficient stomach digestion has taken place and protein break down), in small amounts at a time, and to prevent stomach acid from simply pouring into the small intestine. When the stomach 'rumbles' or makes a gurgling sound, it is not because the stomach is asking you for more food (!), it is the process of opening and closing the valve and allowing some of the content of your stomach to pass into the small intestine. The purpose of the valve at the end of the small intestine is to similarly regulate when digested and waste matter is to be passed into the ascending colon.

The stomach is lined with mucus to prevent stomach acid from attacking the lining of the stomach. The stomach in normal and optimal healthy circumstances regulates the amount of acid it produces in accordance to the amount and type of food in the stomach, and is highly acidic. Sufficient acidity is required to break down proteins effectively and also to absorb nutrients. The stomach produces its own enzymes, for example, for pre-digestion of food. These include:

- Pepsin (a protease enzyme, which helps to break down protein)

- Lipase (aiding in the breaking down of fat).

When food moves from the stomach into the small intestine, the liver secretes bile into the duodenum to help neutralise the acidic chyme (mixture of semi-digested food and stomach juices) that has come from the stomach such that the pH in the small intestine and large intestine becomes approximately neutral. The mucusal tissue of the small intestine is alkaline so that pH of the semi-digested food moving through the small intestine gradually increases to around 8.5. This alkaline environment is required for many of the pancreatic enzymes to function. The pH of the large intestine depends on the metabolic activity and the nature of waste products excreted by the micro-organisms in the stool, to some extent.

A description of the pancreas can be found at the Wikipedia link below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancreas

Pancreatic juice is a juice produced by the pancreas, which is excreted into the small intestine. It contains a variety of enzymes, including:

- a variety of proteases (trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, elastase and carboxypeptidase) - pancreatic lipase (for fat digestion)

- amylase (an enzyme to break down carbohydrates).

The protease enzyme Elastase digests and degrades a number of types of protein. Elastase in particular is a good measure of the body's ability to digest protein and levels can be measured in one's stool (i.e. one's Fecal Elastase levels).

Pancreatic juice is alkaline in nature due to the high concentration of bicarbonate ions. This is useful in neutralizing the acidic gastric acid, allowing for effective enzymic action. Pancreatic juice secretion is regulated by the hormones secretin and cholecystokinin, which is produced by the walls of the duodenum upon detection of acid food, proteins and fats. Pancreatic secretion consists of an aqueous bicarbonate component from the duct cells and enzymatic component from the acinar cells.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancreatic_juice

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Insufficient stomach acid / digestive enzyme production:

Insufficient stomach acid production, a condition known as 'Hypochlorhydria', is partly a result of methylation problems. Methylation is dependent on sufficient availability of the B-Vitamins B6 and B12 and sufficient Methionine (the amino acid). Methylation is discussed in more detail on the Nutritional Deficiencies page.

www.drmyhill.co.uk/article.cfm?id=404

Insufficient stomach acid production can also be a result of insufficient Histidine (an amino acid) availability, the main regulator of stomach acid release, but also Zinc and TTP (Vitamin B1) deficiency.

www.digitalnaturopath.com/cond/C42513.html

Insufficient pancreatic enzyme production is known as Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI or PEI). It is usually caused by a progressive loss of the pancreatic cells that manufacture the digestive enzymes. This may be brought on by inflammation (pancreatitis), pancreatic tumor, atrophy (wasting away) of the pancreas, gallstones (cholelithitis), diabetes mellitus, Cystic Fibrosis (CF) or Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SDS). In severe cases of EPI, fats such as triglycerides may well be elevated in the faeces (as it has not been properly broken down and digested in the digestive tract).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exocrine_pancreatic_insufficiency

In addition, insufficient digestive enzyme production may result if the owner of the body eats too large portions, combines inappropriate food types, or ingests insufficient dietary sources of plant enzymes (i.e. from fruit or raw vegetables). The body partly compensates for insufficient digestive enzyme production by 'stealing' from the immune system, thereby impairing the immune system.

www.immunesystemetc.com/Digestion.html

Patients with CFS or related disorders most frequently have protein digestion problems and nutrient absorption. This has a knock on effect on muscular and joint integrity. Without sufficient essential and non-essential amino acids to use to repair and build the body, the patient can fall into a never-ending cycle of re-injury and susceptibility to new injuries, leading to muscle volume decrease and eventual immobility.

Two potential markers of protein malabsorption are the presence of elevated levels of the amino acids Anserine and 1-Methylhistidine in the urine. These come from food sources such as chicken, duck, rabbit, salmon, tuna etc. and elevated levels may indicate either a diet extremely high in these food sources or more likely an inability to properly digest such proteins from moderate intake (in combination with lower levels of absorption of essential amino acids and other nutrients). Amino acid analysis can be arranged from a variety of laboratories. Please see the Identification page and Nutritional Deficiencies page for further information.

Amino acids and the body's ability to break down protein and synthesise different amino acids (including processes like methylation) is essential in a huge number of bio-chemical processes in the body, besides building up tissue, including for example the synthesis of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, antibodies, blood transport proteins and other vital types of protein; and in cellular energy production.

Enzymes are not just used in digestion but different enzymes play a huge number of different roles in the body, for example, breaking down inflammation or antioxidants. A failure to break down proteins properly in the digestive tract and a failure to convert (specific) amino acids properly (in sufficient quantities) clearly has a huge effect on the biochemical and hormonal balance, and functioning and efficiency of many processes in the body.

The cause of poor protein digestion is insufficient stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) and digestive enzyme production and excretion by the stomach and also pancreas into the small intestine.

- Pugent Wind - Even if the patient has a high protein diet, the proteins are not broken down and digested properly. A tell tale sign is frequent, pungent wind.

- 'Wet' or 'damp' wind is associated with incomplete oil and fat digestion and may imply an excessive amount of oil/fat consumed for the current state of the digestive system. Another sign of poor fat/oil digestion is oily stool that sticks to the side of the toilet bowl.

- Odourless wind is usually CO2 and is in general a sign of taking too much antacid tablets or excessive parasite, bad bacterial or candida overgrowth in the colon.

- Hot wind is frequently a sign of an excessive intake of soluble fibre, e.g. supplemental fibre.

Another effect of insufficient stomach acid and enzyme production is the inability to extract and absorb vital nutritional elements from food and even supplements, for example magnesium, calcium, zinc or potassium, and prolonged time food is spent in the stomach. In addition, inefficient amino acid conversion and stress can result in the wasting of vital amino acids in the kidneys into the urine, for example, Taurine, which is required to effectively transport minerals into the tissues and cells. This can over long periods of time result in huge cellular nutritional element deficits. Please see the Nutritional Deficiencies page for more information.

Poor protein digestion can also result in peptide complexes attaching themselves to the mitochondrial membrane, perhaps causing mitochondrial clumping (which in turn may disturb the function of the cytoskeleton within the cytoplasm of the cells). This does not normally affect translocator protein sites, but could affect ATP function in a more general way. More information on cell membrane congestion can be found in the identification, nutrition and toxicity pages. Cytoskeleton is defined by wikipedia below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytoskeleton

Remember that the mouth is part of your digestive system. Saliva contains enzymes that help to break down food whilst it is still in the mouth. The purpose of chewing is not simply to break food into swallowable sized chunks and to titilate your taste buds. Chewing is a necessary part of digestion and it increases the surface area of the food to ensure it is digested properly further downstream. If food is swallowed in chunks rather than as a paste, then you are simply reducing the surface area of digestion. The Edwardians went to great lengths to chew their food at mealtimes and stereotypically looked down and chewed sometimes up to 100 times before swallowing! People were very concerned with health and digestion in those days. Now people are too impatient for everything and rush everything, not really savouring or experiencing the here and now in any detail. A tell tale sign of improper or insufficient chewing is finding small pieces of undigested food in one's stool. If this happens to you, then remember to chew your food more. You might even taste it! Chewing also sends a signal to the brain to begin the sensation of being full. If one eats too quickly or does not chew one's food very much, then one may not feel full until one has overeaten.

If you at any point perform a stool test, to check for levels of parasites, bad bacteria, candida, nutritional composition of one's stool etc, then during sample collection one may notice undigested pieces of food in one's stool. This often occurs if these food types are not chewed properly. Certain food types may be more prone to avoiding chewing, such as lentils etc, as they are small, but it is important to chew these properly before swallowing. One could significantly improve the quality of one's digestion merely by proper chewing.

Please note that during a period of CFS or related conditions, one's level of regular physical activity may go up and down depending on a number of factors, for example how much energy one has. This has a knock-on effect on one's resting metabolic rate. This in turn has an effect on one's digestion and rate of digestion, and hence appetite. A reduction in regular physical activity thus means that one needs to eat less often or smaller meals (or both). If one rigidly sticks to the same routine or portion sizes, one my find oneself at times overloading one's stomach's capabilities, which could lead to severe digestive problems and unpleasantness as described above! Overloading may result in meals being taken later and later, and an evening meal eaten too close to bedtime will often lead to a feeling of 'lead' in the stomach and an inability to get to sleep. Listen to your body and adapt accordingly.

It is probably sensible to eat one's meal slowly and savour the taste of what one is eating. Trying to be in the 'here and now'. Often, if one rushes a meal, then one isn't really focussed on what is going on, and the ego may then require a large quantity to get the same level of stimulation. One is in a sense tasting the memory rather than the actual taste of what is in the mouth. Eating more slowly may also help one to sense when one is becoming full. Often, when sitting down it is difficult to feel how full one is, and it is only when one stands up that one notices how full the stomach really is. It may help to periodically stand up during the course of a meal to feel what is going on and to know when one is comfortably full. For those 'blue' personality types, who suffer from the negative personality traits/tendencies of perfectionism, obsessive nature etc., be careful not to feel that you have to eat every single thing on your plate in order to 'complete' the 'task' and to 'pass the test'. You are not going to get a pat on the back for doing this and often it will lead to overeating and training the mind to ignore what the body wants and how it feels, and to override this forcefully with this obsessive urge! You may find it useful to leave an amount of food on the plate after each meal in order to 'deprogram' this tendency.

If you do not produce enough stomach acid, then it may help your digestion to consume a food type that is acidic increase the acidity in your stomach and thus aid in the breakdown of protein and other nutrients. For example, bio-live natural yoghurt is slightly acidic and also contains probiotic bacteria. If you are taking amino acid supplements, then their natural acidity will help your digestion but lowering the stomach contents pH and compensating for a lack of stomach acid - meaning you may not need to take so much Betaine HCl.

In general, when a strong base metal reacts with a strong acid (e.g. HCl), then the resulting salt in neutral in solution. In addition, in general, when a strong base metal (e.g. sodium, calcium, magnesium, etc.) combines with a weak acid (e.g. an organic acid like an amino acid), then the resulting salt is basic (alkaline in solution). The converse is also true. Amino acid salts tend to have the word ending '-ate'. So Magnesium Glycinate (amino acid salt of Magnesium) is slightly alkaline in solution. Sodium Ascorbate (ascorbic acid (vitamin C) salt of magnesium is slightly alkaline in solution) etc. Buffered Ascorbic acid is the Vitamin C salt usually of Magnesium, Potassium and/or Zinc and is non-acidic compared with pure Vitamin C which is a weak acid. Bear this in mind when combining your supplement intake with your meal.

Some nutritionists are of the opinion that spinach is harder to digest than other vegetables, so if you have a problem with your stomach acid production and digestion in general, eating spinach regularly may not be such a good idea - it may be more sensible to stick to other vegetables.

A tip for aiding digestion is to avoid any activity that draws blood away from the stomach and intestines for at least one hour and preferably two hours after a meal. This includes heavy exercise and taking a hot bath or shower. And also mental stress (at any time of the day) which diverts blood away from the digestive tract, reducing absorption rates and also oxygenation levels in the intestinal tract.

In addition, for an impaired digestive system, it is better to avoid large meals and instead eat smaller amounts more often, spreading out one's food intake as much as possible during the day. It is not particularly helpful to starve oneself for hours and then have a heavy meal. Heathly and light snacks can be consumed between meals, for example. Large meals can not only overload the digestive system but cause 'energetic damage' to the body's meridians. Overeating can also result in stretching of the colon, which can result in excessive built up of stool in the ascending colon. It is also psychologically unhealthy and serves to mask/distract attention from underlying issues to do with stress and self-esteem.

A weak stomach may be more sensitive to aggressive inputs, for example, caffeine containing drinks, especially on an empty stomach.

The stress response draws blood away from the digestive tract, and as such, it is generally a bad idea to eat a large meal when one is feeling stressed, as there will be less blood available to absorb nutrients and potentially less digestive enzyme production.

Vinegar suppresses enzyme production associated with starch digestion. This may be viewed as a good thing if one is dieting or a bad thing if one is eating the correct amount of food! Vinegar is also acidic, which may add to one's level of stomach acid if insufficient or result in excess acid consumption in those with enough stomach acid. Whether the Brits came upon pouring vinegar on their chips (French Fries) by accident or not is another matter! However, excess undigested or partially digested starch in the digestive tract is likely to be broken down by bad bacteria which is not a good thing.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/the-health-benefits-of-vinegar3.htm

As a general rule, red meat takes longer to pass through the GI tract than white meats, fish and pulses (other protein sources). The prolonged period of passage through the digestive tract may result in more decomposition of the food and may use up more energy during this prolonged digestion process.

Some people have the reverse problem, in that their stomach's produce too much acid, rather than too little, i.e. heartburn. This is not as common as producing too little stomach acid amongst sufferers of CFS and related conditions. It is often caused by a high junk food or acidic food intake (fried foods, excessive consumption of red meats and processed meats, sweets, etc). Simply shifting the diet away from these food types and eating more salads, fruit, vegetables etc, will often cure the problem. However, additional steps can be taken to alleviate symptoms. Various antacid tablets are available from chemists, but these tend to produce a great deal of CO2 (i.e. increase wind). The more natural and nutritionally beneficial approach is to take an alkaline substance such as an algae like chlorella or spirulina, or perhaps some magnesium supplements (all of which are alkaline in nature). Drinking additional water will also help to dilute the stomach acid (ionised water is slightly alkaline also). Taking stomach acid production suppressants is a rather short sighted way of curing the problem, as often people will take these so that they don't have to improve their diet.

Please also note that if you were taking a urine test or tests, these require you to avoid supplementation for up to 5 days prior to the day of collection. This may be particularly tough on your digestive system, as without any additional acid or enzymes in the stomach, your stomach may struggle to cope with high protein meals, oily meals or large meals, and you may feel very uncomfortable and bloated at each meal depending on the state of your digestive system. As well as being in some cases an endurance exercise, it can also put too much stress on your digestive system and actually dramatically worsen the quality of your digestion just over a couple of days. So be careful, seek advice from your doctor/consultant about what supplements you really need to stop taking, and if your digestion is particularly poor, you may want to avoid repeated urine tests as it is likely to do more harm than good, even if they provide some potentially useful data. You may also want to discuss which alternative tests may be as or more useful in your particular case.

The causes of insufficient stomach acid and digestive enzyme production can be stress, spleen meridian weakness (c/f TCM - please note that this does not literally correspond to the spleen organ, which regulates red blood cell production), nutritional deficiencies (in particular: vitamins B1, B3, B6, Folic Acid, Biotin, B12, and also the mineral potassium), hormonal deficiency/imbalance, heavy metal toxicity (especially mercury), excessive toxins on the inter- and intra-cellular membranes, poor metabolic functioning, old age and many other factors. Whilst treating the body as a whole, and specifically the methylation processes involved in the production of stomach acid (e.g. high strength Vitamin B12 supplements or B12 injections); building up the energy of the body, and specifically the spleen (TCM, Shiatsu or Bio-Energy Healing can help here); it is highly recommended to resolve the symptoms simultaneously, until the stomach is functioning properly. Methods to achieve this are described below in the following sections.

A gradual decline in stomach acid and digestive enzyme production is sometimes observed in the elderly, and is alleviated through supplementation. However, in the case of CFS patients, this decline occurs whilst still young and its onset much more rapidly.

It should be noted that the every person's body clock tends to be different. However, it is often a case of the actual time being out of synch in each individual. Most people tend to have the coldest body temperature in the mornings, and gradually warming up during the afternoon and evening. Conversely, blood pressure is often highest in the mornings, during the first 3 hours after waking (usually between 8 and 11a.m.) In the evenings, whilst the body temperature is higher, the body tends to be want to gearing down for sleep. The optimum time for exercise is usually in the mid-afternoon or early evening. Exercising first thing in the morning is usually a bad idea as it puts the most stress on the heart and metabolism, which is why most people have heart attacks in the early or mid morning (if they are going to have a heart attack). Applying this to meals, it is considered by many scientists, but not all, that one should eat more of one's calorific intake in the former part of the day with less in the latter part of the day, as one's insulin is not produced in such large quantities in the evening. Eating large meals in the evening may therefore result in spikes in one's blood sugar levels; and really the calories are more useful earlier in the day. As stated, it may be better to eat smaller meals and more often, and to avoid the general trend in Western Industrialised countries for a large and late evening meal (which is more of a social ritual than a biological driven requirement). Your exact metabolism will however dictate what types of foods you can digest and when, and as stated in the Food Combining section further below, carbohydrates and oils are best consumed earlier in the day with protein later on when the stomach has adjusted and is ready for it.

Please note that taking additional digestive enzymes and Betaine HCl and readily assimilated protein supplements will not actually encourage your stomach to produce more acid or enzymes. It is just relieving symptoms of poor protein digestion and allowing the body to assimilate more nutrients from your food. It will not compensate for the lack of enzyme production in the pancreas, but only the stomach. It is in effect alleviating a side effect of your current condition (to an extent). As mentioned above, curing protein digestive problems (in stomach and intestinal tract) requires treatment on many fronts, including nutritional deficiencies, hormonal dysfunction, spleen energetic deficiency etc, and may involve complimentary therapies as well as supplementation. Some patients may require temporary supplementation with a specific amino-acid, depending on his amino acid test results, for example. Some complementary therapies that work on the body's qi (energy) levels as outlined on the energetic therapies page.

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Alleviating Low Stomach Acid/Enzyme Production:

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Hot and Cold Energy:

Raw fruit, algae and vegetables contain a wide variety of enzymes and nutrients, including DNA nand RNA. So is eating huge amounts of raw vegetables good for everyone? Our society seems to be polarised into those who do not eat any raw vegetables or fruit whatsoever, and those who eat far too many raw vegetables (or only raw foods). Much in the same way that political views and social strata are highly polarised.

www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=13139619

Cooking alters food in three important ways. It breaks down starch molecules into more digestible pieces. It 'denatures' protein molecules, helping to 'unfold' their amino acid chains, making them easier to be broken down by own digestive enzymes. And in most cases, heat softens food, which makes it easier to digest. This is true for vegetables but for fish and meat, cooking tends to soften it to a degree, but then overcooking tends to toughen it up like leather (well done steak being virtually inedible!) So even though cooked food is no more calorific, the body requires fewer calories to digest it and process it, to extract the nutrition and energy from it.

Cooking appears to increase the proportion of food digested in the stomach and small intestine, from 50% to 95%, according to studies involving subjects with collection bags at the end of their small intestines (i.e. having had their colon surgically removed - however inappropriate a solution that was!) Previous studies had shown that raw and cooked food were equally well digested because they were focussed on the actual stool coming out of the anus, i.e. that had fermented/digested/consumed in the colon (or large intestine) by good and bad bacteria, which does not actually contribute to the body's uptake of nutrients (in any significant way). Some food types cannot be eaten if uncooked as they are either too hard or are simply not digested at all (e.g. potatoes). Studies involving rats using hard and soft forms of the same food substance have yeilded similar results, rats consuming softer food pellets weighed 30% more after 26 weeks than those fed with harder pellets of the same weight. How much of this is down to inadequate chewing by the mice and how much is down to actual digestion of properly chewed food pellets? Clearly this has wider implications for CFS patients, as mitochondrial function and digestive enzyme levels are much lower in these individuals, and changing the diet to food types that are harder to digest and require more energy to do so, despite the nutritional benefits, may have disasterous results.

Clearly there are many different and degrees methods of cooking, and this is explored in the section further below on Convenience Foods. Some cooking methods are better than others and retain nutrients better. Light steaming and blanching are better than higher temperature methods such as baking or frying. The more heat that is applied to food, the more the DNA and RNA is damaged. Deep frying is especially detrimental (the cooking oil also going rancid (if vegetable oil based) and/or containing transfats (if hydrogenated vegetable oil based)). Microwaving is the cooking method that should be avoided at all costs as it damages DNA and RNA to the greatest extent, and there have been cases of accidental death due to patients having their blood samples microwaved prior to injection to warm it up. Overcooking/pasteurisation is clearly detrimental as it destroys many of the vitamins and nutrients and has an adverse effect on the protein of the food source.

Dr. Richard Wrangham, Harvard biological anthropologist, has studied chimpanzee cultures in the wild for over 30 years. He has theorised that homo sapiens would have never have physically evolved if it were not for the practice of cooking. He believes that cooking with fire was the breakthrough needed for Homo erectus, the precursor to Homo sapiens, to develop the larger, brain filled skull and narrow pelvis and rib cage. A larger brain requires more energy, and most animals with larger brains also have a larger abdomen and pelvis to accommodate a larger gut. A more efficient way of digesting food and absorbing energy from food would thus mean that the gut could grow shorter and the brain size could expand as there was more energy available to power a larger brain. This skeletal and tissue anatomy he argues would not have developed if early man had relied on raw meat and food (food volumes being scarcer and raw food being less calorific/more energy intensive to digest), i.e. early hominids would have stayed with the smaller brains and larger guts/abdomens to suit their optimal chances of survival. The driver for this may have been the instinctual desire for softer food that tasted better and was easier to eat. One can argue that other animals are not capable physically/cognitively of creating fire and using cooking implements and so that is why no other animal has started cooking food like modern humans. This shift in eating patterns has been estimated as having occurred roughly 200,000 years ago, although it is possible that it started up to 400,000 years ago.

The above hypothesis rides on the concept of eating more 'energy rich' foods, or more specifically, foods where more energy can be obtained more easily. A recent study on a group of individuals who were to only subsist on raw vegetables, unprepared, who had no blenders and had to chew everything, resulted in weight loss in all participants (the majority spending most of their day just chewing food), some with severe weight loss as they gave up on chewing around the clock. Clearly for raw-foodists today this is not such an issue as they have access to high energy, oily/fatty foods such as nuts, fruit, dried fruit and so on; and who also have access to juicers, blenders and food processors.

The human being is genetically programmed to seek energy rich foods. This is a survival mechanism so that during times of plenty, an individual can stock up on fat reserves, to get him through times of low food availability. The human body was thus well designed for its purpose. If we go back to the early 1900s, the working class of the UK were very poor and were undernourished and very skinny. With the advent of readily available refined sugar-containing foods, and increasing wealth, the working class of Britain gradually became well fed and now there is actually no class difference between the rich and poor in terms of nutritional health and risk of obesity, colonic cancer and heart disease. Now we have an unnatural scenario where we are living in a western society where calorie-rich food is readily available and cheap, and that one has to actually resist one's natural urges to eat purely fatty and sweet foods or one will become obese and suffer other health issues. One could argue that today's society goes against our genetic instincts and the health epidemic we observe today is a result of this. Extreme self-discipline is required to maintain a healthy dietary regime. This is why many 'health-freaks' are regarded as killjoys and too 'uptight'. A friend of mine once commented that one day mankind will probably evolve to adapt to the modern environment, computer usage, modern diets etc. The older I get, and the more I learn, the more this seems ridiculous. The human body still maintains its genetic desire for energy-rich foods, let alone being unable to effectively adapt to the influx of foreign chemical toxins, electromagnetic smog and postural stresses. One could argue that standards and expectations have simply increased in today's society, and that the human body is meant to be mechanically worn out at the end of one's life - and that few lived past the age of 35 if one goes back 500 years. However, animals stay 'fit' until they die, they do not generally turn obese and unhealthy in their prime! We have simply removed certain stressors and added new ones.

Raw foods, in particular raw vegetables (unjuiced), whilst higher in DNA/RNA and enzymes, are harder to digest than their cooked counterparts and are a major source of cold energy in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory. We should really treat raw fruit and steamed vegetables seperately from raw vegetables. Everyone should probably eat at least a couple of pieces of fruit a day, and plenty of different kinds of steamed vegetables, no matter what condition he is suffering from. Of course there is no harm eating an occasional raw vegetable, but to do so regularly may well cause energetic problems in the body in those that are in severe imbalance already.

According to TCM, cold energy foods, dairy products and foods contained refined sugar or brown sugar tend to have a detrimental effect on individuals with a weak spleen meridian. The stomach and spleen meridians tend to be quite weak in indiviuals with CFS, but of course the exact energetic pattern varies from individual to individual and should be identified by a qualified practitioner.

I have noticed that the body appears to be most susceptible to disruption from cold energy food sources when the body is low in energy itself, in particular when qi deficiency, qi stagnation and yin deficiency are present in the body. This may of course vary according to the individual. A sign of too much cold energy intake is a continuous damp headache, particularly after eating the food source in question (e.g. a spoonful of spirulina or juiced raw vegetables).

http://rgheft.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/fibromyalgia-diet-and-gender

Whilst juicing certain raw vegetables and consuming them in moderation can be very beneficial, an excess of raw vegetable intake will put a strain on anyone's digestive system and introduce too much cold energy into the body. An excess of cold food consumption cannot be counterbalanced by eating certain hot foods or herbs. It is unfortunately not as simple as this.

Please see the section below on Endocrine System Disrupting Foods for a discussion of those raw vegetables that should be cooked lightly prior to consumption and preferably not eaten raw in any significant quantities raw.

Consuming too many sources of 'hot' energy (e.g. a diet high in spicy foods or frequent consumption of herbs, e.g.2. oregano, peppermint, cumin, turmeric, coriander, mixed herbs etc.) can itself be a major source of ill-health (dry skin, night sweating and a red tongue being just the external symptoms) and negatively affecting those with Yin Deficiency according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). For example, Cayenne Pepper is recommended for both internal and external use by some herbalists for those with chronic illness, to stimulate blood circulation. Whilst this may well be effective in the short term, long term use of chilli peppers will elevate one's hot energy levels and may well be detrimental to one's overall health and energy levels as can be seen in the case study below.

There may be a connection between consumption of excessive hot or warming foods and elevated Nitric Oxide production and nervous system excitation. The vanilloid receptor in the nervous system responds to heat as well as vanilloids (which are also hot in nature) and produces Nitric Oxide when stimulated. This is examined in more detail on the Nitric Oxide and Peroxynitrite page. Additionally, foods with 'hot' or 'cold' properties may be an expression of the suitability of the chemical composition of the food in question to one's metabolic typing or oxidising rate - not actually the 'energy' of the food, but more the properties of the chemical compounds in the food, including oil content and several others.

For those suffering from CFS or related conditions, a poorly functioning digestive system and chronic energetic imbalance is often at the heart of their problems, and a raw food-biased diet is unlikely to provide great benefit, and may conversely make the person more ill and further negatively impact the energetic system. However, some individuals have shown to benefit greatly from such diets. However, response is not uniform, and one has to consider each individual's physiology and digestive and energetic health before prescribing a blanket approach. Those who benefit from raw food diets in general probably do not have chronic energetic problems in terms of spleen function, for example. There is no 'one size fits all' diet, and each individual's needs, tolerances etc. are different.

For those with impaired digestive systems, it is probably best to be conservative and exercise caution, and avoid or limit those food types that will put a strain on one's digestive system or that are too 'cold' in energetic terms, for example, avoiding too many fried foods, soft drinks and too much raw food. If you are in any doubts about your diet and your raw food/cold energy intake, consult an acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist, and discuss your diet. Chinese doctors in general recommend eating fresh fruit, but in general only raw vegetables a couple of times a week for those with impaired digestive systems. The easiest 'vegetables' to digest raw are lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes (tomatoes are strictly speaking a fruit, but are usually eaten with savoury foods and not with other fruit). All other vegetables are much harder to digest raw. Moderation is the key. Once one's digestive system is functioning much more effectively (i.e. one's spleen energy is much higher), then one can reintroduce more raw food up to a certain point. Whilst some (non-mainstream) dieticians recommend raw food diets, they are often looking at diet from a Western perspective, and are ignoring 5,000 years of oriental medicine and health science. It is not the business of this web site to give dietary advice, but we recommend that you seek dietary advice from a number of different sources, including oriental medicine specialists, and not just rely on one particular source. And use your common sense of course.

Please note that bananas are a source of cold energy and excessive banana consumption (disproportionately favoured over other fruits) can result in too high a cold energy intake. In addition, consuming chilled foods or drinks (e.g. water straight from the fridge) or frozen foods (e.g. ice cream) puts unnecessary strain on the body. In addition to the cold energetic property, they require heat from the body to warm them to the body's own internal temperature. It is generally best to avoid eating overly hot or cold foods.

Below is a chart listing the energetic properties of a cross section of food types.

http://qi-journal.com/TCM.asp?-token.SearchID=Essential%20Energy%20of%20Foods

The following web site has various pages under Practitioner Notes describing the various conditions of Qi Deficiency, Blood Deficiency, Dampness, True Cold and True Heat, and also recipes and good foods to eat for these conditions, and most importantly foods to avoid if you suffer frmo any of these conditions; depending on the exact nature of one's energetic balance, different food types are recommended. There is no 'one size fits all' diet recommended by practitioners of TCM. This is extremely important.

http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/Download.aspx

The macrobiotic dietary system uses the concept of hot and cold energetic properties of food. Whilst I agree with many of the principles of macrobioticism, this web site does not subscribe necessarily to all macrobiotic concepts (relgiously or at all). Macrobiotic concepts derive from Japanese internal medicine and practices like Shiatsu. The web sites below discuss hot and cold energy and how they relate to the macrobiotic diet.

www.macrobioticcooking.com/4.html

www.macrobiotics.co.uk/yin.htm

Some cutting edge nutritionists today argue strongly that there is no single diet that is suitable for everyone, and that each person should have an individualised diet, according to his biological make up, and that an inappropriate diet (that may be very healthy for one person) may destroy the health of a person over a number of years. Clearly some types of food are detrimental to all physiological types! But we are talking 'proper food' here. Some specialists base this on blood type. There may perhaps be some parallel here to the Ayurvedic medicine's concept of Dosha type. Or perhaps TCM's hot and cold energy concept and the qi bias of a particular person. It may even relate to the modern idea of DNA-based dietary supplements.

I am an ideal case study for this subject matter. For example, from the age of 18 onwards, I developed a taste for Indian and Mexican food, and any foods that were spicy, as they had more 'flavour' and were 'more interesting'. When I left home, I cooked all my own meals and made either a spicy curry or a spicy chilli almost every single night of the week. In addition, I would eat bagels with cinnamon and cardamom in them, and often eat Swedish gingerbreads which contained plenty of ginger. As well as large amounts of butter and cheese (being vegetarian it is sometimes tempting to rely heavily on such hot energy dairy products). The net result was that my daily intake of hot energy herbs and foods was extremely high. This resulted in frequent sweating, especially at night, a total downward spiral of his immune system (frequent colds) - with stress as an additional factor, constant thirst and of course a red tongue. Eventually I came down with exhaustion and post viral fatigue syndrome (where I would feel exhausted a month or two after each bout of influenza, but after that I would feel ok again).

The second acupuncturist I saw was clued up enough to question me about my diet, and put me onto a herb and spice free diet, along with eating 'white' foods such as white basmati rice, potatoes, vegetables, butter, and some cheese and beans etc. but no brown rice or processed foods etc. I was also prescribed bags of very strong Chinese herbs. This could perhaps be likened in some respects to a Salicylate-free diet (which is part of the Guaifenesin protocol and the FailSafe Diet. Ayurvedic medicine has a similar approach, where it frequently prescribes aromatic basmati rice as a major food staple to patients, as it is easy to digest. The same principle is used with raw vegetable juicing, in that juices are easy to digest, except that they also have a major cold/damp energy component also, which is not ideal from an Ayurvedic or TCM perspective usually (depending on the exact case in question). Anyway, I made a massive recovery, hardly needed more than 5 or 6 hours sleep a night, and felt full of energy.

Many years later, I went to a Tony Robbins seminar, where I was sold the idea of eating large amounts of raw green vegetables and salads. I altered my regime massively, and ate blended raw green vegetables every morning for breakfast (either green peppers, broccoli (high in goiterogenic compounds that suppress thyroid function) or celery (with added water to make it possible to blend it)). I would also eat large amounts of salad with lunch and dinner. This was a huge intake of cold, damp energy. Initially this felt very good (after a 7 day raw blended vegetable cleanse - incurred huge and unhealthy weight loss (I was asked if I had been in a concentration camp by one ex-colleague)) and I went back to needing very little sleep each night, but over a period of a few months, this feeling of wellbeing disappeared and I gradually had one cold after another, before coming down with the flu and never recovering (into full blown CFS). Over a 2 month period, I ate just green peppers each morning for breakfast, which although they do not contain any goiterogenic compounds, still kept him in this constant feeling of malaise (i.e. excessive cold energy, or too much for my energetic system at that time). I did read a newspaper article about the damage raw food diets can do, with a baby being fed raw vegetables by its parents and actually dying (an extreme case). I then stopped eating the raw vegetables for breakfast and immediately felt much better, as if a constant background 'brake' had been removed. I later discussed this with another acupuncturist who concurred that the high intake of cold, damp energy was very bad for the immune system and energy levels. Unfortunately, at the time, I did not know all that I know now and did not begin a positive health regime for full recovery from CFS. Does anyone have a time machine please? :-)

During 2010, I saw a TCM practitioner, and was informed that I had too much damp energy, and still a little too much heat energy. Therefore I had to stay off eating too many saturated fats, spicy foods, and also damp producing foods. The herbs I was suggested to take were warming herbs, to drive out the dampness, but which were not TOO hot (or at least were not to be taken in too large a quantity to produce too much heat) as to increase my heat burden. I was suggested to take Ginger Root (Sheng Jiang), Cinnamon Bark (Gui Zhi - Cassia Twig - to help with blood sugar levels), White Peony Root (Bai Shao), Chinese Red Date (Da Zao) and Licorice Root. This formula felt very warming indeed, but did increase my energy levels. I also found that taking a small amount of fresh Ginger every day was very helpful. I later saw my normal practitioner who suggested the Ayurvedic warming formula Planetary Herbals formual Trikatu instead, which contains Ginger Root, Long Pepper Fruit, Black Pepper Fruit and Dehydrated Honey. According to TCM, white pepper is ok for driving away dampness but black pepper is too warming (i.e. hot).

www.planetaryherbals.com/products/GP2212

For those that can tolerate (some) raw vegetables, sprouting is a good way to eat seeds and beans as it ensures the maximum nutritional value in terms of vitamins and other nutrients. Probably the most convenient method of sprouting is to use a glass sprouting jar with a screw top mesh lid. And my favoured sprouted seed is Alfalfa, which is easier to fork out of the sprouting jar when ready, compared with beans sprouts which can be a real pain!

If you eat nuts and seeds, then it may be beneficial to soak them for 2 hours prior to consumption. This helps to remove the enzyme inhibitors and mineral absorption inhibiting phytic acid. One may choose to also soak the seeds overnight in order to begin sprouting them. Please see the link below for more information.

www.wildernessfamilynaturals.com/nuts_soaked_dried_organic.htm

'Raw foodists', or raw food vegans (argued by some to be faddish city dwellers with a desire to return to nature, but in a manner taking advantage of the volumes and diversity of foods available with modern agriculture and modern international transport), never eat cooked foods and only raw foods. This of course does not just comprise of raw vegetables and fruit, but also nuts, nut oils, sprouted beans etc. and on occasion very light cooking which is claimed not to affect the enzyme content of the food. It could be argued that no animal cooks its food apart from humans. And this is a valid point. However, if one looks to historical context, humans have been cooking food for many thousands of years. Not that thousands of years of habitual activity necessarily constitutes something positive. However, not all forms of cooking are equal and some are more damaging than others (e.g. type of frying, type of oil used, steaming vs boiling, duration of cooking etc.) Microwaving is clearly the worst and also has the greatest negative effect on the DNA and RNA content of protein rich foods. Heat damages/destroys DNA and RNA. Oriental medicine's studies of the body have been in existence for many thousands of years, and raw food diets have only become popular in the last 30 years or so, mainly amongst Western Industrialised countries, amongst a small segment of the population. Who has the greater wealth of knowledge and experience? You decide for yourself. Some (many?) raw foodists appear to be partial to drinking alcohol, which is a poison. It may well be possible to obtain vegan wine, but is it really doing you any good? There is nothing energising about consuming alcohol, a concept which is cited as being one of the main reasons for the raw food intake in the first place. Is this consistent with the anti-drugs stance? Clearly it is up to the individual what style of diet they choose, but one should keep an open mind and also look at one's overall health and energetic/digestive levels prior to commencing any extreme diet. Many people appear to have benefitted from a raw food diet, whereas others have experienced rapid decline in their health and in extreme cases, death.

A sensible approach to the right diet for a given individual in my opinion should be mindful of the type of foods right for that individual according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (based on their current energetic make up), a Gluten and/or Dairy Free Diet (or whichever foods have been tested to be problematic from an allergic or intolerance perspective), an Anti-Candida Diet (or varying degrees of it at least) and an Antioxidant-rich diet (for addressing excessive free radicals). It is not always possible to fulfill all criteria, but a balance can be achieved, or at least one can focus more on short term targets if immediately pressing issues must be addressed.

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Endocrine System Disrupting Foods:

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Goitrogens

The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet &Cookbook by Rachel Albert-Matesz and Don Matesz (Planetary Press, Phoenix, Arizona 2004):

"Raw broccoli and cauliflower contain goitrogens that can inhibit thyroid funtion. Parboiling (ie. drop cauliflower into boiling water for three minutes, broccoli fot two minutes) inactivates the goitrogens. It also removes bitterness, makes the vegetables more digestible, more colourful, and sweeter."

'Other foods (besides broccoli & cauliflower) which contain goiterogenic compounds are brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, spinach, turnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, radishes, rapini, canola, cassava, soy beans, corn, sweet potatoes, lima beans, peanuts, pine nuts, peaches, pears, strawberries and millet.'

http://www.rawfoodinfo.com/real%20letters/ltr_goitrogensinbroccolica.html

www.ithyroid.com/goitrogens.htm

'Goitrogens work by interfering with the thyroidal uptake of iodine.'

However excessive goitrogen consumption may enlarge the thyroid as it seeks to increase its size in order to try to absorb more iodine from the blood. Excessive consumption of foods high in sulphur (e.g. Brassica family vegetables - Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts; Cruciferous/Brassicaceae family vegetables - Water Cress, Radish etc.), or perhaps Cysteine based or Sulphur containing supplements, will also act to interfere with copper and iron uptake by the thyroid, resulting in a decrease in thyroid function (i.e. hypothyroidism). Goitrogens and sulphur containing foods have been reputed to play a role in reducing cancer, which seems to occur concurrently with a suppression of thyroid function. Brassica family vegetables also play a role in promoting Liver function. Some argue that it is fine to eat these vegetables and nuts raw, as long as one eats a wide variety of raw foods, including those that promote thyroid function. Others argue that they should be avoided eaten raw entirely. I am of the latter opinion (please see further down for his personal experiences).

As stated above, some argue that one should totally avoid eating RAW:

- cruciferous vegetables from the Brassica family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, bok choy, and rutabaga (when cooked or steamed, they lose their goiterogenic properties and are safe to consume)
- Mustard seeds
- Peanuts
- Pine nuts

True fermentation of some of the above vegetables (using probiotic bacteria) is said to partially digest the foods and make them more digestible and perhaps even negate their goitrogen content. Conversely, traditional fermentation is said to increase the goitrogens in grains (e.g. millet) for example.

Please note that broccoli and broccoli sprouts do contain a number of other useful flavanoids (antioxidants). The most important of these is Sulphoraphane Glucosinolate (a.k.a. Sulforaphane Glucoinolate or SGS). Scientists have identified SGS as a long-lasting natural antioxidant and detoxifier. SGS contributes to the integrity of all cells. More than 200 publications have been released detailing the importance of SGS in activating the body's natural detoxification and antioxidant enzymes, i.e. Glutathione, protecting the body from free radical damage. SGS can be eaten in raw or cooked broccoli sprouts (raw having a high level of goitrogens) or by taking a supplement such as Xymogen OncoPLEX.

http://www.brassica.com/sci/sgsfactsheet.htm

www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/sulforaphane.php

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Isoflavones

Tofu or bean curd (and soya milk) is often claimed to be very healthy. It is a processed, value added product. However, if one considers the actual nutritional composition, it is roughly 10 times lower in fibre than just eating soya beans or other types of beans. It is not the first time that processing a healthy food source adds cost to the consumer and decreases nutritional benefit! This is not to say that bean curd is 'bad' for you, but if eaten with other foods that are high in fibre, is probably a healthy food. However, the point being made here is that if one simply eats cooked soya beans with the same food types, it would be even healthier and containing more fibre!

There is some debate about bean curd being bad for you. This is based upon the Phytoestrogens contained in bean curd and soya protein products, which are similar molecules to mammalian hormones and its enzyme inhibited properties. Studies show also that Asians eat only a fraction of the amount of soya than that consumed by Western vegetarians and those who substitute soya for dairy and meat products. Some arguments against soya are listed below.

www.westonaprice.org/soy/index.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/09/17/soy-brain.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/tofu.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/04/09/tofu-brain-decline.aspx

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/25/BAGJISDK4F.DTL&type=health

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/01/09/truth-about-soy.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/02/soybean-concerns.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/02/10/breast-cancer-soy.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/10/08/soy-crisis.aspx

www.naturalnews.com/022630.html

Many sources of Soy Sauce have been found to contain high level of a carcinogenic chemical.

www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/02soysauce.htm

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/07/04/soy-cancer-part-one.aspx

Counter arguments regarding tofu can be found below.

www.soya.be/mercola.php

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Lignans

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignan

Coming soon!

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Food Combining:



Modern western food is obsessed with combining as many food types into a single meal as possible, regardless of the effects on effective digestion, for example, meat, dairy products, vegetables, fruit, starchy carbohyrates, grains, etc. For example, fruit is best digested on an empty stomach and away from other food types. Starchy vegetables such as potato should be eaten away from large amounts of protein for optimal digestion. Everyone has no doubt experienced feeling incredibly bloated for many hours after eating a steak with french fries, or even worse, a hamburger with french fries and a milkshake! Not every meal requires a dessert. In fact, desserts are best avoided completely. When a lion makes a kill on the plains of Africa, does it pause before tucking in to cook some french fries or boil some rice? Does it stop to suck milk from a mother's breast? Does it bake a loaf of bread? Or when it has finished consuming the carcass, does it have a chocolate mousse? The heavy dependency on grains and starchy vegetables has entered into homo sapiens diet relatively recently in his existence on the planet of 200,000+ years. The human body has yet to adapt properly to modern diets, and is probably not likely to ever do so.

Food combining is a discipline whereby one is selective in terms of what food types one eats together, to ensure that the minimum of energy is employed in the actual digestion of these food types. By eating certain food types apart, one uses up less energy digesting them and digests them more efficiently, absorbing more nutrients from them, then if one ate them together. In addition, there is less chance of mucin production and thus mucoid plaque formation if one combines food properly. Food combining essentially gives us a little more energy 'for free' with little effort. It is highly recommended for CFS patients and those with related conditions.

Please take note of the above food combining chart. It illustrates what food types are best combined and which are not. In particular, fruit is best eaten on its own, on an empty stomach (i.e. avoid tomatoes with main meals - work only with lettuce or perhaps celery). Melons are best eaten alone. Sweet fruits can be eaten with sub-acid fruits but not acid fruits. Acid fruits can be combined with sub-acid fruits. Fruit classification is not always so clear cut, and certain fruits, e.g. grapes, can be acidic, sub-acid or sweet depending on their degree of ripeness. It is probably not as critical to correctly combine fruit as it is other food types, although I have noticed quicker digestion when combining easily definable fruit types correctly. All dried fruit is classified as sweet, and is also acid producing. Celery and lettuce can be combined with fruit if desired, but in general most other vegetables do not combine so well with fruit, although some will disagree. Always avoid eating fats with high protein meals. Some food combining charts classify beans as proteins rather than carbohydrates, but most do not. Beans are regarded by some as being hard to digest, because they contain both copious amounts of protein and carbohydrate (usually between 1:2 or 1:4 ratio). Nuts also contain both, but not as much carbohydrate (usually 3:1 or 2:1 ratio). Therefore it is commonly held that when eating beans it is best to eat them with either vegetables, salad, or other carbohydrates such as grains, in order to dilute down the protein content slightly. Additionally, eating beans and wholegrains together provides a complete protein source, whereas eating beans without grains does not.

Some protein source in jars or tins come preserved in olive or sunflower oil, e.g. tinned fish or jars of olives. This is not ideal from a food combining perspective. Fish preserved in brine is better, although not as tasty! Fresh fish is clearly better if possible. It is best to avoid vinegar with carbohydrates as it impairs carbohydrate digestion, which means avoiding vinaigrette dressing with beans.

Many dried greens or superfood powders or fruit powders may contain a wide variety of ingredients, but often different fruit types are mixed together, e.g. sweet fruits and acid fruits, or indeed fruits and greens. Some believe that greens and fruits can be happily mixed together, even though the greens are essentially a high protein food source. I am not totally convinced. Equally if you want to take a small amount of greens mixture with a meal, then it is best to take it with a protein meal.

Otherwise it can be very useful, although perhaps does not always have to be followed religiously - one may notice the difference combining correctly and not. I have tried drinking a small amount of pomegranate juice when his previous meal was almost fully digested, and it considerably lengthened the time it took to digest the last remaining amount in the stomach.

As stated above, one should not combine two different incompatible food types in the same meal. This also means that one should not begin the next meal before the previous meal has fully left the stomach. Even if you are eating a compatible food type with the previous meal, it is good practice not to eat a meal until one is fully hungry, as otherwise one may be prolonging the amount of time the last part of the previous meal is in the stomach, leading to fermentation or pushing the food through to the intestine too early. Many of us are not used to be fully hungry, i.e. having an empty stomach, and eat when we are feeling slightly hungry. So to implement this may require some discipline. Some metabolic types do not cope so well on an empty stomach as others. To wait for the last part of your meal to be digested may feel like you are starving yourself! However, you may notice benefits in terms of your digestion quality and stools.

In reality, to completely empty the stomach in between meals is totally impractical for most, as it involves waiting several hours in a hungry state. For the majority of us, there will be some mixing of meals in the stomach and intestines, but the goal is to keep this to a minimum as much as possible.

Medium Chain Triglycerides - MCTs - (comprised of Medium Chain Fatty Acids or MCFAs), do not require enzymes for their absorption from the GI tract but clearly require enzymes to break them down to produce energy in the liver. So the consumption of MCT oils does not put a strain on your pancreas at all. However they are readily absorbed and may overload your liver if eaten in excess. Long Chain Triglycerides and Short Chain Triglycerides however require enzymes for their absorption and although they require lipase from the liver to digest, do not overload the liver so much as they are absorbed more slowly into the blood stream. Regarding food combining, MCT oil (essentially Caprylic acid and Capric acid triglycerides) can be eaten with Protein easily (i.e. they combine very well) - this is the only exception to the oil/protein rule. Coconut oil may be eaten in moderation with protein (e.g. used for frying etc.) as it contains roughly 50% MCTs and so only the remaining 50% of the coconut oil requires enzymes for digestion. So it is not ideal but it is not as bad as consuming polyunsaturated oils and other types of saturated fat.

Food combining also dictates that one should not eat too much of one food item or type in a meal, e.g. eating too much tuna in one meal; or eating tuna, eggs, nuts and other proteins in sizeable amounts in the same meal. Diversity in general is the goal for any diet, and with food combining it should be diversity within compatible food types (in the same meal). Eating the same food item every day, or worse still, eating the same food item two or three times a day, may quickly result in the body rejecting that food type. This is typically noted in it not tasting as good as it once did, or even the body becoming temporarily allergic to it. Some foods that one is mildly sensitive to can be eaten occasionally without too many problems, but to eat them more than once a day will likely produce a severe allergic reaction.

Most food combiners recommend eating fruit in the morning, carbohydrates for lunch and protein for dinner. However, some do better with carbohydrates or proteins for breakfast and feel faint on fruit first thing in the morning. Joseph Mercola uses a metabolic typing to classify people into groups according to what kinds of foods they thrive best on, which is in contrast to others who believe all individuals should be raw vegan and eat low protein diets. Mercola tends to emphasize high protein and (good) saturated fat diets in general.

Digestion times in the stomach for various food types can be found below.

http://www.drbass.com/sequential.html

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Processed, Convenience and Junk Foods:

In the new millennium, people tend to have busier and busier lives, work longer hours, feel they have to be an expert at everything they do and be successful in all relationships and love, cram in more and more leisure activities, spend large amounts of time spoiling their children, have more and more stress, and instead of eating better food to compensate, we often tend to rely on nutritionally inferior processed and pre-packaged convenience foods and 'ready meals', which have a minimal nutritional value. 'Ready meals', processed foods and ready made sauces are convenient for many consumers as they can just 'bung' them in the oven, microwave or pan. It is no surprise that the majority of the population of your country has poor intestinal health. The UK is the most constipated country in the world according to statistics.

Below is a link to a time line of the last century, entitled the 'Slippery Slope Index', containing statistics regarding mortality rates and health problems, and relating these to the changes in agriculture, the rise of mass production techniques (e.g. use of growth hormones and antibiotics in cattle/poultry populations; irradiation; crop spraying; food additives), the rise of processed/convenience foods and increase in saturated fat content of the average meal, the decrease in average fibre content and intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, decrease in exercise taken, the introduction of petrochemical products, the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Clearly, it is up to the individual as to how to interpret these figures, but they do paint a rather disturbing picture about modern dietary and health (mal)practices and their huge cost on modern populations. The information was compiled by Randall Fitzgerald in his slightly controversial (but factual) book 'The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health' (2007).

www.hundredyearlie.com/ssi.html

Food additives are believed to have a negative impact on those who consume it, for example, with children, who perhaps eat more food, sweets and beverages containing food additives, increasing tendencies towards aggressive, uncontrolled and antisocial behaviour, short attention spans, inability to concentrate and poor sleep are linked with increased consumption of food and sweets containing additives, as well as the actual junk food itself. Please see the Toxins page for information about how additives and toxin levels have increased the average human decomposition rate.

Supermarkets today are interested in maximising their profits, naturally, as is any business. That is the purpose of a business. Supermarkets specifically choose to promote the products that generate them the biggest profits. These are often ready meals and processed foods, particularly from their 'premium', 'finest', 'healthy choice', 'good for you' or 'healthy living' ranges. Naturally, such premium ready meals have to have as long a shelf life as possible and appeal to the broadest tastes, to appear attractive looking in terms (on the packaging!), whilst keeping costs down. Inevitably, such convenience foods are often very high in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Sugar, salt and fatty ingredients are often added to improve the taste of the bland, often low quality ingredients (or resulting overcooked ingredients). Simple carbohydrates are often used, e.g. white rice, white flour, etc. This applies even to supposedly healthy choices, which are rarely actually healthy, despite advertising claims to the contrary. It is very rare to find any convenience food that is actually highly nutritious and good for you! And it is not really surprising. To be able to buy a very tasty premium/luxury meal, a convenience meal, and a healthy meal all in one is quite a tall order.

For example, breakfast cereals often make claims about high fibre content on the boxes, implying they are a healthy choice, despite the fact that they are often very high in sugar. How can eating something with a high refined sugar content be good for you? They often use abnormally small portion sizes when quoting the nutritional information (e.g. 30g portions), when clearly portion sizes are usually much bigger for the average person. This makes the cereal sound healthier. In addition, it does not take into account what kind of milk is being used.

Please note that soya milk typically contains approximately 30% more carbohydrates than cow's milk, and a nominal amount of fibre. I find that unsweetened Soy Milk is quite unpleasant, and of course sweetened soy milk typically increases the carbohydrate levels. Rice milk typically contains 117% the amount of carbohydrate than cow's milk, and no fibre to boot. It is a little like eating rice but without all the fibre and with nearly all the carbohydrate. One has to ask how 'healthy' it is to drink pasteurised milk and indeed an expensive vegan milk substitute. What purpose does it serve? Why the obsession with breakfast cereals and milk? Can one not simply eat a bowl of hydrated/cooked wholegrain organic porridge oats instead?
1 Cup = 8 Fluid Ounces = 240g.

e.g. Rice Dream contains approximately 23g of Carbohydrate per 8oz cup.
www.tastethedream.com/products/product/1467/202.php
e.g. Semi-skimmed milk typically contains approximately 11.5g of Carbohydrate per 8oz cup.
www.annecollins.com/dietary-carbs/carbs-milk.htm
e.g. Soy Milk typically contains 15g of Carbohydrate per 8oz cup.
www.nutritiondata.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4387/2

Please see the section above on Endocrine System Disrupting Foods for a discussion of the alleged health problems associated with tofu/soy product consumption.

Breakfast bars have become more fashionable and popular, with breakfast cereal manufacturers making a 'bar' version of a cereal. These are often marketed as a breakfast replacement for busy people on the move. Basically it is a sweet, not a breakfast. Breakfast or cereal bars have a very high sugar content, and often contain jam or chocolate. They also often contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, i.e. are high in harmful trans fats. They do contain some cereal, but on the whole they are almost as unhealthy as eating a Mars bar for breakfast. Consumers seem to be brainwashed by labelling and advertising that low fat products are healthy, even though they contain a large amount of sugar which will still make you obese, rot your teeth and mess up your gut flora! Get up earlier and eat a proper breakfast, or bring some porridge oats to work with you (add hot water and mix, or microwave with water). A breakfast bar, in its small convenient packaging, for 'breakfast' on the move has as much to do with breakfast as a Nissan Micra has to do with a Ferrari.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1613141.stm

Toast is a common breakfast staple in many countries, or variants of baked goods thereof, e.g. bagels, waffles etc. One should bear in mind that most are very high in simple carbohydrates, are generally low in fibre, may well contain transfats and are often slightly browned or burnt meaning that they probably contain a significant level of carcinogens. This is not taking into account the margarine or sugary jams and marmaldes people often spread onto their baked breakfast goods. Of course, wholegrain or brown versions are better, but still, there are better starts to the day.

Many yoghurts, as described above, make claims to being healthy, but often contain sugar, artificial colours and preservatives, even those that contain probiotic bacteria. Ready made sauces nearly always contain sugar, and the vast majority of ready meals with a sauce in them contain sugar.

Since the turn of the 20th Century, the popularity of Sourdough bread (aka Natural Leaven Bread) has decreased, perhaps more so since the 1950s onwards. Sourdough bread is made by capturing wild yeasts in the dough or batter, a small part of which is kept apart from each batch (prior to baking the loaves) and reused for the next batch - the process can be repeated indefinitely. This is in contrast to the popular cultured yeasts that are used in conventional commercial baking (the 'fast loaf'). Sourdough bread has a characteristic 'tangy' or mildly sour taste. I have some experience of making sourdough bread in his early 20s. Because of reasons of profitability, the long term of fermentation and pandering to more commercial tastes (sweeter and more bland), bread production shifted from sourdough bread to the common variety. Some have suggested that the fermentation of sourdough provides a more readily digestible form of wheat (fermented/pre-digested), and could perhaps explain why many people are show very mild allergic reactions to bread or conventional wheat-based products. Whilst eating conventional white bread is leads to increased incidences of Candida and bad bacterial overgrowth, eating conventional brown bread may also cause problems with digestion also in some individuals. Perhaps sourdough bread, not always based upon wheat, may help to mitigate such problems. Alternatively one could consider not eating bread at all, and stick to other whole grains, such as Oats etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourdough

www.wildyeastbakery.co.uk/07-health.htm

http://www.spiritlinnusa.com/linns_forum/viewtopic.php?t=2757&highlight=sourdough+bread+health

Supermarkets contain a huge number of aisles dedicated to snacks, crisps, baked goods, sweets, biscuits and other processed products, and comparatively few containing actual raw goods. The idea of supermarket displays is to entice people to pick things up as they walk past. Petrol stations do this to good effect in the UK, by making one 'walk the gauntlet': i.e. being forced to walk past huge displays of chocolate bars and crisps to get to the check out. When one is queuing, one may spend a minute or two right next to hundreds of chocolate bars, and they are of course intended to encourage a compulsive purchase, which they often succeed in, helping to fatten up the drivers who probably often spend too much time driving everywhere and not enough time walking or exercising as it is. Sweets and snacks have very little if any nutritional value, except for energy from fats and sugar. This is not the best form in which to consume these types of constituent (i.e. transfats, saturated fats and simple carbohydrates).

Canned foods were first introduced in the 19th Century, where they were seen as a novelty and luxury food item by the middle classes. In early canned foods, lead was used as the solder, resulting in cases of lead poisoning in canned foods containing moist or liquid foods. The most famous case was the 1845 Franklin expedition of the Northwest Passage. The basic construction of older cans is a cylindrical segment and two flat pieces for the top and bottom, made of tin coated iron, and soldered on using Lead. The tin coating meant the iron was not rusted away by the food and that tin was preferentially leached into the food rather than iron. Tin is not know to cause significant toxicity problems. Lead soldering has largely, although not completely, been replaced by other types of can construction such as welded double seams. Modern cans use tin coated stainless steel rather than wrought iron. Lead soldering still remains on 3.7% of US cans, according to the NFPA. These tend to be for dried foods where there is less likelihood of the lead leaching into the food. Imported cans may however employ lead soldering on them, so it is wise to check. Please see the links below regarding lead use in tin cans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canning

www.enotalone.com/article/7794.html

Approximately half of tin cans use an epoxy resin coating inside the can, which gives the lining its smooth, non-metallic appearance. It is used to minimise bacterial growth inside certain canned food stuffs. This epoxy resin contains the known toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Approximately 10% of such cans contain levels of BPA that greatly exceed recommended safety levels. This appears to be more prevalent amongst Infant Formulas.

www.ewg.org/reports/bisphenola

Other risks from non-acidic canned foods, e.g. meat, fish, mushrooms etc, include the potential for proliferation of the bacteria behind botulism if they are left for too long or if the cans themselves are dented or deformed which can affect the seals. This bacterial strain is especially heat resistant, and is normally killed by heat treatment of canned foods at 121C for 3 minutes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botulism

Please see the Toxins page for more information about Bisphenol A leaching from plastic bottles and canned foods.

Food manufacturers have used brand advertising to create a feel good factor around household brands, and bombard the public with advertising, to the extent that consumers become brainwashed into thinking that the household brands offer quality, they are there to look after them somehow, they are safe, they can always be trusted and they make you feel at home. But are they really 'looking after you'?

Taking an extreme example, the Scott Expeditions to Antartica at the turn of the previous century used free food products on the condition that they took photographs in polar locations consuming them, to be used in advertising in Europe. Scott knew very little about nutrition and took with him the food types that he thought were luxurious and high in energy. Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate ran adverts featuring Scott long after most of Scott's expedition had died of starvation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_Expedition

Similarly Oxo continued to run adverts for 9 months after Scott's death in his second expedition. A good example of misleading advertising by household brands, not unknown in the present day!

Similarly, the food in restaurants does not really cost that much money to make. It is the service, place and atmosphere that people come to a restaurant for, a place to hang out and eat tasty food. The concept of a restaurant or caterer is that they are there to really look after you. The types of foods you are likely to eat when eating out are likely to be high in fat, salt and sugar, because they are prepared to taste as good as possible, to increase the enjoyment of your visit. When eating out, people like to treat themselves with alcoholic beverages, fatty and sugary milkshakes or soft drinks etc, which again contain more calories, additives and sugar.

Processed food and ready meals is often either fried or contains rich sauces full of additives and saturated and trans fats, rather than being eaten dry (unfried!) or with a lean tomato sauce for example.

People must become aware that food labelling and packaging is there to try to make you buy the product and is not really there to educate you. It is a sales pitch. Much like a politician is not really interested in stating a list of facts, but in influencing and making rapport and persuading the individual. The picture on the packaging does not often reflect what the food will look like when you have cooked it, much like a McDonalds burger that arrives on your tray doesn't look as good as the idealised picture you see in the adverts and pictures. Just because food packaging makes big claims about being containing certain amounts of a nutritious component, or low amounts of something bad, this does not necessarily mean very much. Guideline Daily Amounts for different ingredients vary from country to country, and are frequently quoted in a range rather than a single ceiling value. The concept of a ceiling value is also misleading, as it suggests that as long as one is just below it, one is going to be eating a healthy meal or having a healthy lifestyle. Food manufacturers often use the lower GDA for a nutrient such as a vitamin or fatty acid, but use the higher GDA value for 'bad' ingredients, such as saturated fat content as percentage of maximum recommended daily intake. In this way, they can make big claims about their products and make them sound as appealing and healthy as possible. For example, food manufacturers frequently state that a certain product contains Omega 3, but it may not be the best kind of Omega 3 or enough for one's daily intake. Regular consumption of food products that are high in saturated fats and trans fats will lead to increases in bad cholesterol levels and the build up of plaque on the artery walls. Please see the fatty acids section of the nutritional deficiencies page for more information.

The average daily salt requirement is 6g. It is not uncommon for people consuming processed foods and ready meals regularly to eat up to 25g per day. High salt intake can result in a high blood pressure. Many ready meals balance the amount of salt with a corresponding amount of sugar. Both of these ingredients help to improve the taste of what is probably quite bland food or poor quality ingredients. Other ways of improving the taste of food include picking high quality ingredients, not overcooking the food, adding small amounts of herbs, spices or garlic (hot energetic qualities of course). If one is consuming processed and ready meals regularly, then over time the combination of a raised blood pressure and constricted arteries can result in heart disease or heart failure. In addition, a high trans fat and saturated fat intake over many years can result in so much fat build up around the organs and into the muscle tissue of the heart, that the heart also becomes very weak, making this even more likely.

In general processed foods, ready meals and junk foods are low in fibre (e.g. minced meats, potato, white buns or pizza bases, chips, fries, pizza often contain virtually no fibre at all but are very high in trans fats) and do not require much chewing. This can often mean than when eating them, we do not chew them so much and eat them quite quickly, which not only does not signal to the brain that we are becoming full, but also we do not taste the food very much (instigating more stuffing of the face!) and the food that is swallowed has a low surface area and so is not digested as well as food that is chewed properly and which has a high surface area. In addition, low fibre foods result in a build up of mucoid plaque in the small and large intestines, and also result in a low faeces volume. This may contribute to an increased likelihood of bowel cancer. Faeces volumes in industrialised countries is often many times lower (perhaps up to 10 times in extreme cases!) than that in more agricultural societies.

Some people try to cheat weight gain by skipping meals or only eating a little fruit for breakfast and lunch, so that they can eat a 'normal' (medium saturated/trans fat) meal for dinner, and not put on any weight. This way of eating is however flawed and not clever, as it generally means that the total fibre intake is relatively low and cholesterol levels may well go up. In addition, it may be putting additional strain on the adrenal glands as there is less blood sugar reserves available during the day. People in general do not consume enough water every day, and so if one skips meals also, the total faeces volume may become very low indeed, and the build up of mucoid plaque all the more likely.

There is some good news regarding processed foods. As a general rule, tinned fruit and vegetables and frozen vegetables may contain little qi but they are still high in fibre and nutrients. Whilst it is clearly better to eat fresh vegetables, tinned or frozen vegetables can still be consumed beneficially. In some cases, tinned or frozen vegetables actually contain more nutrients than fresh vegetables that have been stored in the fridge too long.

There is nothing normal about being obese. It is not a natural condition. The human psyche is programmed to seek rich foods in order to put on fat in order to survive the winter. Eat whilst food is available! That is what the human mind is programmed to do. Unfortunately for the vast majority of people, fattening up for the winter is not necessary as we live in heated houses and food supplies and wages/welfare are usually constant all year around. Obesity and processed food consumption is now equally common amongst the wealthy and the poor. In the early 1900s, the working class of Britain were mostly extremely skinny and underfed. With the introduction of mass food production and processed foods, calories became more readily available, resulting in a gradual weight gain amongst the country's working class. Obesity is on the increase and is particularly a problem amongst children. Statistics on UK obesity levels can be found at the British Heart Foundation's web site.

www.heartstats.org/datapage.asp?id=1011

Please note that I am not judging those with varying degrees of obesity and is not suggesting that obese people are bad persons. However each individual is and their lifestyle choices are their own to make and is not anyone else's business.

Diets that are very high in simple carbohydrates, common in those who regularly eat processed foods in industrialised societies, may lead to diabetes in the long term. The optimal diet for diabetics is also the optimal diet for everyone else, namely avoiding foods that are high in simple carbohydrates and instead deriving most of one's carbohydrate intake from complex carbohydrates (slow release energy). Diabetes is in many cases completely reversible once one reverts to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Diabetes is often associated with chronic obesity. Diabetes may also lead to renal failure.

We as a society are often conditioned to believe that adults tend to be obese and children tend to be slim. The understanding is that one unavoidably becomes more obese as one becomes older, like the older generations; perhaps because of busy lives without time to cook or exercise properly. A little like one becoming a little like one's parents as one sees them so much as 'normal' when one is growing up and learn their values. However, there is nothing natural about being obese. Excessive fat is not a sign of maturity or of increased wisdom that comes with age!

It is important when thinking about excess fat that it is not just the visible fat we are looking for. The most visible fat is of course the subcutaneous fat, that which lies below the skin. This is what makes a person look 'flabby'. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. People who displays excesses of fat on their bodies also carry around a large amount of internal fat. This surronds the organs. A person who looks fit or normal may indeed be carrying a large amount of internal fat in their bodies, and have a higher fat percentage that a person who looks more obese. It is this level of internal fat that is most important in health terms. In extremely or morbidly obese people, postural problems set in and organs are actually displaced in the body. The diaphragm is pushed up because of the fat around the intestines, and mucoid plaque in the intestines, the lungs are compressed (making exercise and breathing very difficult), the heart enlarges to compensate.

The liver should be filled with water and contain little fat. In those with diets high in saturated fat and trans fat, and high body fat percentages, the liver may be enlarged and full of fat. In extreme cases their liver may resemble a goose's liver that is prepared for fois gras! Such geese are force fed corn or maize, and have a liver that is almost 10 times the size of a healthy liver. The liver is almost purely made up of fat. The liver function of such birds is extremely impaired. This is what happens to human livers in extremely unhealthy individuals over time on a slightly lesser scale.

Please see Dr Sanda Cabot's web site Liverdoctor.com's report on the fatty liver below.

www.liverdoctor.com/index.php?page=fatty-liver

Liver damage also occurs on account of excessive alcohol consumption. The average level of alcohol consumption in the UK has doubled since the 1960s. Most people who drink regularly are blissfully unaware of the damage they are causing to their livers, and are regularly overloading their livers with high saturated fat levels as well as excessive alcohol levels (and the usual high levels of toxins from environmental sources, commercially available non-organic food sources, poor cooking practices, stimulants (coffee etc.), medicines and bath room products that the liver must process). The daily recommended safe limit for an adult female is 2-3 units and the daily recommended safe limit for an adult male is 3-4 units. However, this does not mean that all these units should be drunk all at once, and that one can drink more safely on one day as one did not have anything the previous day. Regular drinking over these limits, as well as the other factors discussed, will contribute to the onset of liver disease (for which there are often no visible symptoms). The liver is able to self-repair itself up to a certain point, but the stage where people usually discover they have liver problems is when this point has been long passed and where permanent damage has occurred.

www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/23068925

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver_disease

More information on Liver function can be read on the Toxicity page. Information pertaining to liver problems and inefficient liver founction can be read Inefficient Liver Function on the Toxicity page.

The daily recommended total fat intake for an adult female is 70g and 95g for an adult male. This does not make any references to fat type, and most of this intake should ideally be monounsaturated (Omega 9) and polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3 and 6), rather than bad saturated fats and trans fats. In many cases, processed foods, junk foods or ready meals contain almost the total daily fat allowance in one meal. What happens at the other meals is another question!

There has been a general trend in supermarket labelling to display the fat content on the labels of food, and if a particular processed meal has less fat, then it is better for you. So for example if a dessert contains plenty of sugar but uses skimmed milk and contains little fat, it is still going to make you fat. It will also help to rot your teeth. Sugar, simple carbohydrates and alcohol are probably the biggest culprits in weight gain, with bad saturated fats (as opposed to good saturated fats) and trans fats running them a close second. The consumption of simple carbohyrates in general tends to encourage building up of fat more than eating good fats, although eating enough of any high calorific food type will lead to weight gain. Calorific information is more helpful but does not tell the whole story. Processed product labelling is therefore quite misleading and lulls people into a false sense of security. Often the low fat versions of a particular food type, e.g. houmous (the chick pea spread), contain sugar or dextrin and other additives (to make it taste nicer) as opposed to the regular version which often just contains natural ingredients and does not rely on sweetners for its taste. Often, products advertised as being a 'healthy' option may just contain less sugar than the regular version, or contain artificial sweetners, which are bad for you anyway (in terms of toxicity and candida overgrowth), but just won't make you fat. Low fat versions of certain dishes, e.g. houmous, often contain artificial sweetners or somethings dextrin etc. to help with them taste better.

In 2010, food labelling regulations will be considerably tightened up in the UK. Hopefully then food labelling will be clear and accurate, and easy to interpret. Currently, food nutritional information figures have an average margin of error of +/-20%, which is reasonably significant. In certain ready meals, for example, fat content figures may be more than half of the actual fat content of the food. Whilst this is not the norm, it is not uncommon. In numerous cases, a 'Healthy Living' dish may actually contain more saturated fat than a 'Saver' or budget version of the same dish. Supermarkets either seem to not put enough effort into testing their foods, or they are trying to get away with as much as possible by stretching regulations to make their highest margin foods appear to be more attractive.

Unfortunately, at present, whilst the presence of additives has to be declared in foods, the quantities are not, so it is impossible for the average consumer to monitor his intake of respective additives against the 'recommended daily intake'. In the UK, the FSA does believe this information is required to be communicated to the average consumer, and it instead calculates an average diet, and combination of convenience foods, to determine whether, any one product contains too much or not. This is on a need to know basis for the consumer. The daily limits are in any case calculated on the basis of a threshold where the vast majority of people on or below that limit do not develop cancer or other chronic terminal diseases more than the average person (which is not necessarily a good guideline or thing to aspire to anyway), but there are plenty of negative effects on one's health that can occur between zero intake of additives and developing cancer. These conditions do not come out of nowhere and are not binary in nature.

A large proportion of the food we eat is Genetically Modified (GM), also known as GMFs (Genetically Modified Foods). Certain crops are genetically modified to create a strain that is more resistant and often provides larger yields, and hence bigger profits. Whether one views GMFs as an exercise in playing God and producing food that may not be as 'nutritious' or 'natural' as existing strains, and particularly organic foods, or common sense, is another matter. However, the consumer should at least be able to make an informed choice, and if a food product contains genetically modified ingredients, it should be clearly stated on the label and perhaps even a percentage given of the exact GM content of that food item, rather than just pushing higher and higher percentages of GMFs to the consumer without their knowledge. Currently it is a bit of a lottery, and consumers have no idea what proportion of their food is GM. This is not really appropriate behaviour on behalf of the food manufacturers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food

People often buy on the basis of food packaging rather than what the actual food is! If the packaging looks attractive and if it instills confidence. Faulty or even scratched packaging may cause a consumer to reject that particular item as they do not 'trust' it or have 'confidence' in it. Whilst this may be sound practice in certain cases if the air tight seal is broken, in many cases it is an irrational practice. People are conditioned to expect attractive and excessive packaging in all areas of consumption. It is a little like the manner in which we are conditioned to only view the 'packaging' of the human body, i.e the external form, the skin etc, when viewing someone as 'healthy' or not. We are unused to seeing what lies beneath the skin that often offends if we see the actual organs, blood, faeces and those body parts that are not frequently viewed (covered up, e.g. breasts, genitals etc., sex acts which are acceptable (!) in particular contexts). In many cases a 'healthy' person looks very similar to an 'unhealthy' person from the outside at first glance. Often we find unhealthy organs or fat build up offensive as healthy looking tissues, just because they are both 'gory', when in a sense, we should be more conditioned to being offended or distrubed by the morbid and unhealthy.

Consumers expect supermarkets and food vendors to educate them on diet and help them to make food choices. They often rely on food labelling, which is not currently very tightly regulated, to help them make split second decisions about how good for them a particular product is. However, we clearly have a conflict of interest here, as supermarkets want consumers to spend as much money as possible and to buy the highest margin products, namely convenience foods. It is a little like expecting a drug dealer to tell you the truth about cocaine or heroin usage. Consumers are clearly quite naive and really need to take responsibility for themselves and take the initiative to learn at least a few rudimentary facts about diet and what the ingredients actually mean, so they are actually able to make informed decisions, without just relying on labelling and packaging. The type and the order of the ingredients are often a very good indicator of whether a food product is going to be reasonably good for you or not. Consumers are too used to waiting for the government and packaging and advertising to tell them what they should be doing and eating. In the US, the trend for suing fast food companies for making one fat is clearly a sign that people want someone else to blame and aren't taking responsibility for their own education and choices. This web site has rather basic information about diet, but it is a starting point if you are reading this, to provide some basic understanding of dietary pitfalls and requirements, and I hope will inspire further reading and interest.

If you buy processed foods, you really need to read the labels, to check for added sugar, yeast extract, MSG, preservatives, colouring etc. If you are not on an anti-candida diet (i.e. you have no foreign organism issues) it is not so critical, but it is still a good idea to at least know what you are eating. Virtually all processed and pre-packaged foods contain artificial colours to ensure the foods are the colour we expect, rather than an orangey brown colour. However, if consumers were given the choice of a more natural product, it is likely that they would choose one without artificial colouring. However, if this isn't presented in this manner, consumers will naturally go for foods that 'look right' (that they have been conditioned to expect). Virtually all such foods also contain preservatives and stabilisers. These are to ensure that the foods shelf lives can be extended as long as possible to make life easier for food stockists, as otherwise more food would be thrown away or selections would be narrower. Preservatives work because they help to kill or minimise the growth of bacteria. By the same logic they are often toxic or harmful to the human body to varying degrees. And over time, levels may accumulate in the body. Preservatives are often a euphemism for toxins. Stabilisers and emulsifiers ensure that foods and sauces stay in the consistency that we expect when we open the bottle pour them out. Separation would look 'unattractive'.

Junk foods in general are high in simple carbohydrates (potatoes, baked pastry etc. or white bread, processed meats, red meats and saturated or trans fats. Often the wrong kinds of fats are used for frying, for example, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that are high in trans fats. The result is a meal with very high bad fat content, excessive starchy and full of simple carbohydrates, and with very little nutritional value, and which greatly contributes to increased cholesterol levels. It is not a food type that will make the eater feel particularly energetic afterwards and is certainly detrimental to one's health if eaten regularly. Ironically, the total fat content of many junk food meals, such as a cheese burger, a donner kebab, or fish and chips (french fries), is sometimes lower that certain types of premium ready meal from a supermarket which is aimed at the upwardly mobile and aspiring consumers, who would regard such ready meals as being a good, reasonably healthy choice. Not everything is what it seems.

Hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats) has been banned in Switzerland, Denmark and California, on account of strong links to increased risks of coronary heart disease (via atherosclerotic plaque build up), yet other countries still allow it to be used, affecting buyers of cheaper convenience goods who do not pay attention to labels or understand what all the ingredients are.

Frying meats may also result in more Nitrosamine formation (which is linked with bowel cancer).

Junk foods and convenience foods often utilise cheap ingredients to maximise profits. For processed meat products (e.g. sausages, burgers, meatballs etc.), these often use off cuts (snout, ears etc) and the cheapest cuts from an animal, often the most fatty. A quality processed meat product usually contains at least 75% meat (the rest being fat, breadcrumbs etc.) A poor quality meat product will often contain as low as 30% meat. A good mince meat should contain 85% meat. The fact that poor quality processed meat products contain poor quality meat and so little of it, often means that many additives are added to try to improve the taste. The actual meat percentage of the average mince meat product is generally much lowever than it was 50 years ago, when 90% meat content was not uncommon. Meat content is stated on the label - make sure you read it!

Another source of cheap ingredient is hydrogenated vegetable oil. This is a major source of harmful trans fats in diet, which is strongly linked with increased risk of heart disease, even in those that are not obese. Margarines tend to use either hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. If you are going to use a spread on your bread or other baked goods, then it is much better to use butter than margarine, even though the total fat content may indeed be higher. Better still, use some olive oil instead - this is quite common in Italy (often with some crushed garlic). It is also worth bearing in mind that bread and other baked goods also nearly always contain hydrogenated vegetable oils, and so contain significant levels of trans fats. This may be mitigated to some extent if they are wholegrain and contain more fibre.

The British are famous for eating sandwiches for lunch. It is not uncommon for urban professionals to eat a sandwich in front of their computers or to go to a sandwich bar or similar at lunchtime. Supermarkets also sell ready made sandwiches. Because a sandwich is cold and may contain some lettuce or a little tomato, the temptation is to believe that it is relatively healthy. This is often not the case. If we put the trans fat component of bread aside, then we have to consider the cheap margarine used (high in hydrogenated vegetable oils - trans fat!), the dollops of mayonnaise which is almost obligatory no matter what the filling is, raising the total fat content further, as well as whatever meat or other sauces that are present. Trendy wraps use white flour and have very little dietary fibre in them, especially if the filling is basically some meat and some sauce. Baked panninis and other Italian style executive sandwiches often contain large amounts of cheese, mayonnaise or oily sauces. Make sure you have a soft drink or coffee with your lunch as well to top it off. Sandwiches may be practical and have a convenient dry outer casing to grab hold of, but are they really that tasty? Or cheap? If you buy freshly made sandwiches, you may want to ask if they use margarine. If you buy your sandwiches in a supermarket, you may be shocked when looking at the ingredients by the list of preservatives and added hydrogenated vegetable fat etc. If you make your own sandwiches, at least you have the choice of what to put in it and what to omit. Sandwich makers have to appeal to the most common and popular tastes in order to sell the most and want to keep costs down and maximise profits. Are you eating lean or a fat bomb? A heart attack in a bread format?

Those of us who do not drink alcohol and who regularly attend pubs may end up drinking the 'healthy' option of bottled orange juice. It is usually not cheap and you may end up drinking 5 or 6 glasses of orange juice in a night. Is that healthy?! Think of all that sugar you are drinking. Yikes. It is almost debatable whether you would have been better off drinking wine or spirits instead!! (Almost)

The ultimate added value supermarket product must surely be bottled spring/mineral water. It is actually more expensive than petrol in the UK! And that is after the government has trebled the price of petrol by taxing it. Clearly someone is making a great deal of money here. Please note that I am not suggesting that one should not buy mineral water, but just that it is an example of high margin products being sold.

With the advent of Monosodium Glutamate in 1909, free glutamate levels in processed and restaurant/takeaway food have increasing risen. In addition, hydrolysed protein and yeasts are increasingly used in commercially prepared foods to provide that 'umami' type 'beefy' or 'savoury' taste, partly to make up for the cheap ingredients or poor quality of the food, but also to appeal to 'primitive, instinctual' tastes. Free glutamate at high levels has been linked to a variety of health problems, and its presence in the ingredients often disguised within other processed ingredients. Please see the Nutritional page for more information.

In general, the sugar, salt, glutamate and additive content of processed foods has increased over the last 50 years. At the same time, even with fruit and vegetables, the sweeter varieties tend to sell better than those that are not as sweet, and so through supply and demand, we are presented with generally sweeter varieties of fruit and vegetables in our stores and supermarkets. Commercial agriculture does not help either, for example, tomatoes tasting less like actual tomatoes and more like sugar and red water. Sweeter fruit and vegetable varieties means a higher natural sugar content per weight. Breakfast cereals such as the 'diet' varieties like Special K contain more sugar than they did previously. Why a 'diet' cereal should contain any refined sugar at all is totally bizarre. Even porridge oats often come in sweeter varieties with added dried fruit or maple syrup to make them more 'luxurious'. Food manufacturers try to outdo each other or to make 'progress' or try to sell more by adding more sugar or calories to food, or offering sweeter options, to appeal to a broader set of tastes, and ultimately to make more money. Marketing people clearly want to try to make things bigger and better in some way. At Christmas time, specialist Christmas chocolates, cakes and treats often contain even more sugar than the equivalents that are sold throughout the year. The logic is that it is an extra treat at Christmas time, and that the consumer should be spoilt and 'looked after'. This often results in Christmas cakes with centimetres of icing sugar on top and ultra sweet chocolates or chocolate biscuits that are almost so sweet that one feels sick eating them. I am not sure of the religious significance of such trends!! Christmas is a time of total digestive and bodily abuse, with mass overeating and heavy drinking.

Many people may feel that society is a cruel place, and may well oppose infringements of civil liberties, wars and animal rights abuses, or indeed the destruction of the environment. It is human nature to support the protection of others whilst denigrating one's own importance. Whilst one feels that one is against the infringements of liberties of, violence against and killing of one's fellow man, one ironically has no problems with violence towards oneself, abuse of oneself and the slow killing of oneself! It is thus considered immoral for the government or industry to poison people, but it is perfectly acceptable for the average consumer to poison himself through ignorance or laziness! Is this not a double standard? If life precious, but not so precious that one would stop self-destructive and self-abusive behaviour and thoughts? Negative thinking and addictive patterns of self-hatred and low self esteem, poor diets full of excessive simple carbohydrates, sugar, additives, toxins and the poisoning of the body and damaging of the liver and brain cells with recreational drugs, alcohol and cigarettes...should we not call Amnesty International and have these people locked up and protected from themselves?! ;-)

It is best to avoid take away foods and eating out. It may be fun and tasty, but you do not know what you are eating, what types of oils are used in cooking and what nasty ingredients have been added (sugar, MSG) or what the hygiene is like. Running a restaurant is not easy and if you think about the volumes of prepared food that pass through the kitchens, and the amount of meat and fish that is stored and refrigerated and the amount of cleaning that is required, then slipping up occasionally is clearly not an impossibility. Of course, I am not suggesting that you never eat out again, but that if you habitually eat take away food or eat our regularly, that you perhaps cut back. This will help your health and your bank balance. Ask anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant how horrific some of the conditions are and the practices that go on (in some restaurants). Any practice that is non-essential and not immediately profit-making is often put to the back of the 'to do list' in any business, restaurant or otherwise, unless the management is ultra-strict. The cleanliness of the dining area of restaurants gives a sense of security to the customers that the kitchens will also be of equivalent discipline and cleanliness! Consumer beware!

Irradiation and fumigation of incoming fruits, vegetables, herbs and meats from abroad (often 2nd or 3rd world countries where it is much cheaper) as practised in many Western nations means the nutritional content may not be what it should be.

A useful article regarding the sterilisation and irradiation of food and its effects can be found at the link below.

www.naturalnews.com/023014.html

Processed foods and junk foods should really be an occasional treat if eaten at all, and not a regular part of your diet.

It is of course far better to make your own food. It is not only healthier but cheaper and tastier. You don't have to make extravagant and complex recipes, and you can keep your cooking functional, with steamed vegetables and meat or fish. Many vegetables do not require chopping, so all you have to do is wash them and throw them into the steamer. What could be easier? You don't need to eat rice, potatoes or french fries (chips to the Brits here) with every meal! You can have steamed vegetables and sometimes a salad. Use your imagination. There are plenty of unusual and inexpensive ingredients in the supermarket if you break from your usual routine.

Rule Number 1: Don't use a microwave. Food cooked in a microwave has its chemical structure altered which is why it does not taste good. If you have a microwave, I recommend you either take it to the dump or put it away in a cupboard or storeroom somewhere. Either boil, steam or bake your food. Excessive frying, deep frying and microwaving food renders the food virtually worthless in nutritional terms. It is easy to focus on the calorific quality of food and not its actual nutritional value.

Teflon frying pans are another kitchen item to get rid of! The Teflon coating comes off over time and if overheated will toxify your meal. Have you ever noticed that you fried food tastes funny if you burn your teflon pan? Plain stainless steel pans may stick more, but they won't toxify you in the same way. Better still, don't bother frying your food at all! The only good use for a Teflon Frying Pan is hitting burglars over the head with (joke)! And last tip of the day - use a water filter or a fancy filtering system.

It is generally a good idea to avoid using aluminium foil for baking. Aluminium is a heavy metal which is highly toxic if it permeates into your food.The likelihood of this is probably quite small, but even so, the risk is there. It is safer to use a pyrex glass or ceramic baking tray, and if necessary, add a little coconut oil to the tray to avoid sticking. I have personally eaten foods baked on aluminium foil once or twice a week for 30 years or so, and on occasion eating small pieces of aluminium foil by accident (when the burnt food sticks to the foil). When I had my hair analysis and blood test results back, they did show some aluminium present, but very small amounts, compared with the much more significant levels of mercury and arsenic.

Please see below a link to an article about lactose intolerance. It appears that overall that most Europeans adapted to milk digestion in adulthood from around 5000 to 8000 years ago.

www.physorg.com/news91733802.html

Food companies make a huge amount of money from processed and value added foods. If people were to change their dietary habits and move towards more home cooked foods and less wheat, sugar, milk and alcohol, it is likely large portions of the economy would collapse. Various industries like food, beverage and pharmaceuticals exert very powerful influences on government and legislation, and as long as those afflicted by unhealthy lifestyles and mercury toxicity issues are consuming and part of the work force and wider economy, then there will likely be no serious pressure exerted by governments to encourage healthier lifestyles. Of course, some people will always be pain motivated, and will not seek healthier foods unless their health is critically at risk. So there will always be a market for junk food and processed foods. There is a potentially enormous market for healthy food and health supplements also, which in itself can create new market opportunities. But like anything else, people will sell what people will buy, rather than what they need or what is good for them. After all, if we only bought what we needed, then no one would ever buy a new car, new furniture, a Rolex, new fashionable clothes or a music CD. It is ultimately up to the consumer to educate himself or herself and make the right choices for him/herself and to educate others.

We are bombarded with advertising for convenience foods and junk foods, lead increasingly busy and sedentary lives, and yet images of skinny (cocaine abusing) models and men with 6 packs fill magazines and newspapers. Surely there is some inconsistency in the messages that are being communicated here? Is one supposed to attain these goals based on these inputs? Not likely!

No one forces poor food into your mouth, at least not as an adult, and it is up to you to make sure what goes into your mouth is good quality food. CFS and digestive problems in general are simply a matter of cause and effect. There is no mystery here. Some contributary factors are our own 'fault' or merely a result of our lifestyle and practices/choices. Other factors are environmental and a result of where we live and beyond our control to varying degrees. Cause is often divorced from effect in the public consciousness. When their is acknowledgement of effect, it is usually token and of little consequence, with some lip service being paid to the most fashionable health concern of the time without a major change in lifestyle or diet, usually driven by advertisements or supermarket labelling and promotions. Otherwise, people tend to bury their heads in the sand and believe that ignorance will protect them from any negative effects. It is as if by denying the effects they 'will not harm us'. People assume they are completely healthy until a doctor diagnoses them with a particular condition, like a binary selection. Others are critical of 'health bores' and are critical in such a manner which supports/justifies their current lifestyle and thinking, with the belief that only the effects they acknowledge will actually affect them. The feeling of intellectual superiority and feeling 'informed' and 'rational' will not help prevent the effects of certain types of causes. The severity of the effects are not dependent on a person's views or ideas on the subject.

Governments are very slow to respond and want to maintain the status quo. It is only through increasing public interest and awareness that change can take place within the media, government and health services of our nations. These institutions are funded by individual citizens and consumers and are there to serve us. They should be well informed and educated. Just like any institution or any employee, they won't perform at their best unless they are motivated and are being directly observed and scrutinised. Consumers/voters shouldn't just settle for whatever they get, whatever choices they currently have. We should expect the best! And we should get it! Everyone therefore has a role and duty in their consumer spending and voting habits to act responsibly, and also in educating other people. We need to educate and provide economic motivation for good products, information and services to be widely available.

The media and advertising industry in consumer societies tend to try to divorce cause from effect, and do their best to encourage 'normal' (i.e. excessive) consumer spending and habits. The alternative media in general is not taken very seriously on account of its very negative tone, naive political and economic ideas, and promotion of dubiously informed ideas and misinformation as well as genuinely useful and informative articles and facts. The lack of exposure also works against it. The alternative health and supplement industry is enormous, and the vast majority of products and supplements are not really very helpful at all. Suppliers of respective supplements merely promote their own products and imply that they are helpful for everyone in every condition. They are merely trying to sell as much as possible. Every business tries to do this. However, it would be helpful if 'sales speak' could restrict itself to the specific facts and not make gross generalisations. I encourage all readers of this web site to make up their own minds.

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Organic Fruit, Vegetables and Meat, and 'Health' Foods:

It is generally better to include organic foods in your diet in place of their non-organic equivalents. In particular fruit and vegetables. If you can afford this, then it is recommended. Organic meats do not contain antibiotics, pesticides (from feed), herbicides (from feed), and artificial growth hormones.

Growth hormones are only still used in the USA. Some commentators generalise and imply that artificial growth hormones are used in all non-organic animal farming, but this is not strictly true. Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), a.k.a. Bovine Somatotropin (BST), is a protein growth hormone produced in cattle. A synthetic version of the hormone was first created in 1994, known as recombinant bovine somatropin (rBST) (a.k.a. recombinant bovine growth hormone or rBGH or simply artificial growth hormone). rBGH has been used to make cow's grow bigger and to produce more milk volume. Milk from rBGH treated cows contains higher levels of IGF1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1) and also contains small amounts of puss where the too much milk from the rBGH has caused inflammation of the udders. IGF1 has not been conclusively proven to be detrimental to human health (and linked to an increased cancer risk) although studies on rats have revealed that it has a slight element of toxicity. The brand is Posilac, currently owned by Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly & Co. rBGH was banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe by 2000. Imported milk or beef from rBGH treated animals to these countries is not permitted, but convenience foods and condiments containing dairy ingredients from the USA (regardless of source) are permitted strangely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_Growth_Hormone

Eating regular non-organic red meat (e.g. beef) can result in abnormally high levels of synthetic growth hormones in the body, potentially contributing to endocrine problems; some even claim it can over many years contribute in part to an enlarged prostate gland.

Organic does not necessarily mean that factory farming has not been used however, and says nothing about the overall soil quality. Organic fruit and vegetables do not contain pesticides and herbicides, which in many cases can suppress the endocrine system from functioning correctly. Organic food is generally more expensive but also tastes much better than the non-organic equivalent. There is some speculation as to whether organic food is as rich in nutrients as it once was. This may be on account of soil depletion. It is also said that grass fed (their natural diet!) meat and dairy products are much better for you than (partly or predominantly) grain fed (unnatural diet) equivalents. If you can find grass fed organic animal products, then all the better, but they may be hard to come by.

In general, it is probably true that if one is to eat kidney or liver, then it is best to do so from organic sources. These organs are the organs that eliminate waste products and toxins from the body, and as such may well be very high in toxins in animals that are not reared organically, although it no doubt depends on the exact types of feed used and any 'additives' added to the animals diet, and whether they were fed a balanced diet or overfed on purpose (thus the organs being unhealthy).

There is some debate amongst naturopathic practitioners that organic herbs from certain countries are to be avoided, as whilst they are organic, they have a high toxicity on account of the environmental pollution in the areas that the organic farms are located in. Examples commonly cited included herbs from China and India. Some TCM practitioners prefer to use Chinese herbs grown organically in the USA rather than imported herbs from China. Organic is also no guarantee of potency of active ingredients, and it is highly possible to buy an organic herb and have bought a low quality, cheap batch, offcasts or lower grade produce, when a non-organic source may have had a higher quantity of active ingredients but still relatively low toxin content (tested in lab conditions by whichever reputable supplement supplier one has bought it from). Most herbal supplements are of a low grade and quality.

Studies show that 40% of foods currently available have traces of pesticides. 3% have pesticide levels approaching the maximum determined safe limits for each given pesticide. However, it could be argued that the maximum permissable pesticide levels are arbitrary, and that being just below is 'healthy' or 'harmless' and being just above is 'potentially harmful'. There is a difference between eating a food source containing traces of pesticides on one day, and every day for 60 years. Toxins tend to accumulate (cumulatively) in the fat cells and cell membranes over time.

Studies show that farmers who work with pesticides and herbicides are approximately eight times more likely to develop cancer in later life than the equivalent organic farmers. Cancer rates amongst dentists who handle mercury amalgam fillings are equally much higher than those of the general population.

It could be argued that hydroponic foods, such as tomatoes, that use chemical nutrients and water, are superior to organic foods as the mineral input is controllable and in some cases higher. Perhaps this is the same as a person taking mineral supplements (or living on supplements alone and no food?!) However, just because a food type is grown hydroponically does not mean that pesticides are not used.

Irradiation and fumigation of incoming fruits, vegetables, herbs and meats from abroad (often 2nd or 3rd world countries where it is much cheaper) means the nutritional content may not be what it should be. Some argue that the healthiest food one can eat is that which is grown locally and in season, as the human body is 'designed' to eat that which is around him in his local environment. This does not really take into account migration of populations and globalisation, where most of what we eat comes from all over the world, and may of us eat out of season and exotic foods all the time. Is this really sensible, good for our economies and good for the environment? In many third world countries, DDT and other harmful pesticides are not illegal, and so much of the food we eat may contain trace amounts of pesticides. The quality of commercially or hydroponically produced, imported fruit, vegetables and herbs may not be the same as that of organic equivalents grown in our own communities or indeed elsewhere. The active chemical ingredients that make specific herbs so useful in medicinal context may simply not be as high in mass produced products and dried extracts and supplements as it is in organically grown fresh herbs and tinctures. The same applies to food sources also, which may simply not be as nutritious as we would hope they would be.

Please see the Processed and Convenience Foods section above regarding the 'Slippery Slope Index' and the overall trend towards the consumption of worse quality and inappropriate food types.

www.hundredyearlie.com/ssi.html

In general, one can say that organic meat and dairy products considers an animal's welfare more than a non-organic or factory farmed equivalent product. Non-organic farmers may point out that in some cases, non-organically raised animals have more hygienic conditions than their organic equivalents, e.g. pig farming, and that the animals are 'happy' (despite never having seen daylight!) However, it is convenient to overlook examples of battery farmed chickens, that are shut in cages, unable to physically move, and in some cases with a tube shoved down their throats (for force feeding), with their beaks tied to the wire wesh. Are these chickens 'happy'? Are the conditions hygienic? One should also consider the ways and conditions in which animals are slaughtered, as such standards of hygiene and methods of slaughter vary enormously. In addition, different methods may be used such as Kosher or Halal.

Not totally uncommon is the illegal meat trade's practice of taking meat/carcasses that are deemed unfit for human consumption and which are marked for disposal, and reselling back to the meat industry - money for 'nothing'!

Supermarkets in some documented cases have unsound hygiene practices. For example, when understaffed at the delicatessen and fish counters, one worker may alternate between both counters, cross-contaminating the meat and fish. Managers within big supermarket chains are evaluated on their ability to meet targets, and in certain identified cases, managers have encouraged workers to take meat that is past its sell by date and mince it and sell it as fresh mince meat with a future sell by date, which is then purchased by unsuspecting customers!

Studies show that approximately on average, one in four chicken flocks have salmonella in Europe, with infection rates between 0% and 68%. This is why proper cooking is recommended!

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/04/nmeat104.xml

Free range chickens tend to be allowed to eat up to 30% of their calorific intake from grass. As grass is very low in calories, this is a large amount of grass. Fish-meal is frequently fed to chickens, which in general results in much healthier animals (on account of the protein quality and essential fatty acid content).

www.lionsgrip.com/chickens.html

However, it is thought that the significant heavy metal levels present in certain fish species means that those who feed regularly on fish, i.e. chickens and their eggs (and some people) may be higher in their mercury concentrations.

Much of the taste of chicken probably comes from its purine content. Purine itself is an essential part of our diet (in the correct quantity). There are vegetable and meat sources of purine. A significant intake of foods high in purine may be beneficial for those with a high metabolic rate yet low adrenal and thyroid function - a part often associated with CFS patients or those with adrenal/stress burnout - (approximately 33% of daily calorific intake). In addition, an increased intake of milk products and nuts may also help this condition.

www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=51

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uric_acid

At the end of the day, both free range and factory bred animals are killed! However, we may not necessarily have a problem with that. We as a consumer society have death hiden away, with the end product conveniently packaged. The same goes for human deaths - people die all around us, of old age, accidents, but we rarely actually see death. War footage and reporting uses 'technical' military terms and is often highly sanitised and does not show the reality of what is going on. Western industrialised societies tend to condition people to hide their body's away and 'sanitise' and compartmentalise their bodily functions and make them 'civilised' and 'tasteful', but at the end of the day, we are still blood and guts. By buying certain types of products, you are encouraging its production. Vote with your wallet.

www.vegansociety.com/html/animals/exploitation/hens.php

However, there is a myth, mainly perpetuated by supermarkets and health food stores, that all organic food is good for you! It is tempting to think that if you eat a luxurious organic dessert or sweet, then it is a naughty pleasure but still good for you. Unfortunately, this isn't really the case. Eating a diet high in simple carbohydrates of an organic origin still isn't good for you. Eating foods containing brown sugar or organic sugar is not good for you. Cooking foods in organic sunflower oil is not good for you as heating omega 6 rich oils produces harmful trans fatty acids. See the omega 6/fatty acids section of the nutritional deficiencies page for more information. You are better off eating non-organic foods of the correct type and in the correct proportions (cheaply) than eating all types of processed (expensive) organic products available. However, you are of course even better off eating organic foods of the correct type and in the correct proportions! Processed organic food or toiletry product labelling is also confusing. Only one ingredient needs to be organic for the product labelling to describe the product as 'organic'.

Most food items sold in health food stores are not particularly good for you if consumed in liberal quantities. The implication is of course in the name 'health food store' implying such stores actually sell healthy food, and that if you shop regularly at such stores you will be healthy! The same goes for vegetarian food. Whilst it is clearly possible to have a healthy diet if you eat meat and fish or whether you are vegetarian or vegan, many people assume that just because food is vegetarian it is therefore good for you! Many processed foods carry Vegetarian Society approved logos or labels stating it is suitable for vegetarians. Suitable meaning technically possible to eat perhaps. But 'suitable' often implies that it is a good idea to eat it and that it is good for you. I would personally not class any desserts containing sugar or deep fried snacks as suitable for human consumption! But in the organic section of the supermarket they have 'Vegetarian Society approved' logos and Soil Association logos. That really is the trouble with Vegetarian 'suitable' logos and Soil Association 'Organic' logos. For the uninformed, they signify some kind of feel good factor which is often misplaced. Surely it would be better to be seen to endorse foods that are actually good for you. Often these are not processed foods and are raw ingredients, and therefore tend not to carry such labels.

A variety of trendy health products and juices and smoothies make claims about detoxing the body, reducing the risk of heart disease, being 'superfoods' and improving health in general. However, it is best to take such claims with a pinch of salt, much as it pays to take claims on the packaging on ready meals (as discussed above) with a pinch of salt. Whilst such products may indeed be quite healthy in many respects, detoxing the body may take a very long time in some people, and relying on a fruit juice or a green food taken a couple of times a week is neither here nor there. Reducing the risk of heart disease is a complex affair and involves evaluating your entire diet and lifestyle, and is not just as simple as taking a 'superfood' or juice drink once a day whilst retaining the rest of one's unhealthy diet. Clearly one should be informed of the ingredients and nutritional information of a product that one buys, but that health benefits need to take into account our entire diet and lifestyle. Excessive and misleading health claims are there to jump on the 'eco', 'detox' or 'green' bandwagon and to sell as many expensive processed value-added products as possible. The same goes for health supplements. Making a claim that supplement A will cure this condition is more than not likely to be untrue or grossly exaggerated. One has to consider the whole picture.

I have found that many organic processed foods available at supermarkets contain sugar. Whether this is organic or 'normal' sugar is really irrelevant. The fact that sugar is added to a supposedly healthy product is bizarre and shortsighted. It is presumably done to improve the taste but it seems rather counterproductive. Supermarkets are full of extremely expensive, processed, organic foods. If you want to eat organic food, why not just buy the raw organic ingredients and make the food yourself?

You have to understand what food types are good for you and not just buy whatever takes your fancy and whatever you like the most. Unfortunately some chemists and health food store staff see themselves as health experts and actually actively offer advice to naive customers. In many cases, the advice is inappropriate and there is clearly a conflict of interests in giving impartial educated advice, assuming that the knowledge was actually there to start with. Ultimately dispensing chemists and health food stores are there to sell you products and make a profit, regardless of whether you actually need them or not and regardless of whether they are good for you or not.

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My Own Personal Dietary Regime:

I had been vegetarian for 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s, of which 2-3 years were spent being vegan.

I also engaged in a semi-raw food diet for 6 months during 2002.

I engaged in a moderate to severe anti-candida diet for 6 to 12 months during 2005, during the treatment of my candida and parasite overgrowth. After my live blood screening had showed the disappearance of these micro-organisms from my blood, I gradually relaxed my dietary regime a little, although never went back to consuming refined or unrefined sugar.

However, during 2009, I underwent various forms of food allergy testing, and noticed a worsening of certain food allergies, specifically to rice bran and oats; I noticed I was allergic to rice bran. In 2010 I decided to cut out milk dairy products based on a test result from Enterolab regarding genetic milk protein sensitivity predisposition.

Later on in 2010 I also cut out gliadin-containing foods (Wheat), as well as non-gliadin gluten containing grains such as rice and oats because of allergies. Since then I cut out Glutamine containing foods. I also tried to avoid or limit foods that are excessively mucus producing (to avoid mucoid plaque build up).

During December 2010 to May 2011 I adjusted my diet according to what put least strain on my pancreas, gallbladder, kidneys and the dysbiosis - going from higher protein intake (harder on kidneys) to higher carb intake (easier on kidneys), and back again. My diet became quite high in beans as I had to eat 7-8 times a day and they were convenient to prepare and eat.

In December 2011 I eventually found it necessary to cut out grains (buckwheat and millet) as well as pulses and legumes from my diet, adopting initially a Paleo Diet for a couple of months, that helped me to put on a little weight again. I introduced soaked nuts again into my diet as well as more meat. I continued to eat some cereal grasses in moderation but cut out algae supplements like Chlorella and Spirulina. I cut out all soy products including Tofu. The diet was however slightly too high in carbohydrates but was a stepping stone diet.

In Spring 2012 I cut out the Sweet Potato and Beetroot etc. and moved towards more of a modified SCD/GAPs type diet - but an anti-Candida version of it, i.e. cutting out all the foods with a medium to high glycemic index, including nearly all root vegetables. I have tried to balance this with the recommendations from my TCM practitioner regarding foods which are good for building up Qi and not too warming, damp or cold;) - however this is not always possible to achieve, depending on dietary and calorific requirements.

I currently regularly eat the following food types; lettuce, cress, sprouted seeds, soaked nuts and seeds, broccoli, radish, various types of steamed green vegetables, duck eggs, hen eggs, red and white meats, occasional fish (smaller fish species tend to be lower in Mercury).

I tend to steam or boil all my food, and rarely use an oven or frying pan. I blend 2 of my meals every day, breakfast and dinnner. I now eat only 4 meals a day, not 8 as in the previous year. I do not use a microwave, and do not bake with aluminium foil, instead using ceramic or pyrex dishes. I rarely fry any meats but if I do it is with coconut oil or olive oil.

I try to eat as much organic food as possible, wallet allowing, particularly with regards to meat. It is very expensive however. At various points I have tried in general to eat unprocessed meat rather than minced meat, although not always. I avoid any convenience foods or processed foods (other than minced meat). I also avoid roasted nuts (i.e. oxidised/rancid fats), artificial sweetners, honey, alcohol, caffeine etc.

There are general dietary principles to follow but I am not convinced there is a single one-size-fits-all diet that is suitable for all patients of CFS or related conditions. The whole picture has to be taken into consideration including organ function, e.g. whether the kidneys can handle the protein, whether the pancreas and gallbladder can handle oils etc; as well as allergies, current weight, amino acid profile and intestinal dysbiosis or systematic microbe infections. In the case of systematic infections, even with a GAPS type diet, if most of the sugar is digested before the foods reach the end of the small intestine, some of these foods may still spike the blood sugar levels (i.e. have an undesirably high glycemic index) and worsen systematic (blood) infections such as Lyme disease or others. Many diets are based around intestinal health and often fail to take into account other areas. Amino acid supplementation may well be necessary, even if one chooses to get most of one's vitamins from natural sources and eats foods rich in the essential amino acids one is most deficient in, because of demand and impaired digestive function. It is also important to take into account quantities, as the food types one consumes may be appropriate but the quantities might be too large in certain areas. Also, if one has to restrict one's diet more and more due to allergies, because they are too starchy or because they have too high a GI index, one may have to try harder to keep one's diet varied, and really address the root causes of one's condition so that one is moving towards being able to reintroduce foods again into one's diet as appropriate.


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